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Jury Awards $6M verdict to family of Arizona nursing home resident

May 20, 2008

$6M Jury verdict in morphine overdose death of Arizona nursing home resident

A.J. FLICK, Tuscon Citizen

Published: 05.14.2008

A jury awarded a Tucson family $6 million in a lawsuit brought after an ailing 81-year-old relative died of a morphine overdose.

Mary Culpepper and two other relatives last month were awarded $2 million each, with the cost to be paid 90 percent by operators of a nursing home, Manor Care Health Services, and 10 percent to be paid by Tucson Medical Center.
Culpepper sued Manor Care, TMC, a doctor, nurse and pharmacy over the Dec. 8, 2003, death of her mother, Sylvia Culpepper.

She was admitted to TMC on Dec. 2, 2003, suffering from sciatica, a painful nerve condition.
On Dec. 4, 2003, she was prescribed 15 milligrams of morphine twice a day. Two days later, her dosage increased to 30 milligrams, twice a day.

When Culpepper was transferred from TMC to Manor Care, prescription orders contained both dosages.
According to the lawsuit, the Manor Care staff failed to note the discrepancy in the prescriptions and gave her both dosages, both twice a day.

An autopsy determined that Culpepper died of acute morphine intoxication.
According to the jury's verdicts, the doctor, nurse and pharmacy weren't to blame for the death.