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Entries in North Shore Medical Center (1)

Monday
Nov212011

Man Dies After Medicine Mix-Up

Courtesy Marc Smith(MIAMI) -- The family of a 79-year-old dialysis patient is suing a Florida nurse who accidentally gave him a deadly dose of a drug that induces paralysis, instead of an antacid.

"The hospital killed my dad," said Marc Smith of Miami, whose father went into cardiac arrest after the nurse's mistake at North Shore Medical Center in Miami.

Richard Smith, who had a history of kidney disease, had been admitted to the ICU after a dialysis session where he experienced severe shortness of breath. The next day, July 30, 2010, he complained of an upset stomach, so the doctor prescribed the antacid.

Marc Smith came by to visit that morning, and found his dad "unconscious, unresponsive and on a respirator."

Uvo Ologboride, the nurse named in the lawsuit, had given Smith pancuronium. The drug, which is typically used during intubations, acts as a muscle relaxant and paralytic. In higher doses, pancuronium is used to administer lethal injections. Thirty minutes later, Smith was found unresponsive.

Although doctors were able to revive Richard Smith, he was brain dead. He remained in a vegetative state until he died a month later.

The Smith family lawyer, Andrew Yaffa, told ABC News, "This is the worst case of medical neglect I have ever seen." Yaffa, who said he's handled hundreds of hospital death cases in his 22 years as a lawyer, added, "The hospital just seems to be thumbing their nose to this family."

The nurse who administered the incorrect medication "is still working there in the exact same unit where the medical error occurred," Yaffa said.

Ologboride, who could not be reached by ABC News, has been retrained, and fined, according to ABC News Miami affiliate WPLG. In addition, the hospital has since removed pancuronium from all nursing areas except for the operation room, where the medication will only be handled by anesthesiologists.

But that's little consolation for Marc Smith, an EMT, who says, "if we administer the wrong medication and someone dies, that's negligence. That's murder."

A report from the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration demonstrated that with all the safeguards in place to prevent a patient from receiving the wrong medication, the nurse would have had to ignore nearly all of the protocol in place for administering drugs.

Specifically, the nurse "failed to look and read what medication he was taking...failed to scan to determine the right count for the medication, failed to match the patient's ID with the scanned medication."

In addition, the report says, the pharmacy wasn't able to show any justification for storing pancuronium in that particular area of the hospital.

The Smith family originally filed a wrongful death lawsuit in February against the hospital's parent company and the pharmacist, but they recently amended their complaint to include the nurse and the hospital. They now claim the nurse not only administered the wrong medicine, but also failed to properly monitor Richard Smith.

The family is seeking compensation for funeral expenses, medical expenses, and damages resulting from mental pain and suffering.

The North Shore Medical Center did not respond to inquiries from ABC News prior to the publication of this article.

The hospital did, however, issue a statement to WPLG, saying: "Our hearts go out to the Smith family for their loss. This was a tragic event which we immediately self-reported to the Agency for Health Care Administration. We conducted an internal review and have several new processes in place to ensure a situation like this does not happen again."

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ABC News Radio