On Monday, a Judge awarded $30 million to the widow of a patient who died of a drug overdose while receiving treatment at a pain clinic in Brunswick, Georgia. The Judge also awarded $5,570 to the victim’s estate for funeral expenses as well as, immediate pain and suffering. The lawsuit alleged medical malpractice and wrongful death.
The victim, 52 year old William Bennett, was receiving treatment for chronic back pain at the Wellness Center of Brunswick at the time of his death. According to the lawsuit, he began receiving treatment at the facility in January of 2011 and died six days later.
The victim had an extensive medical history and was prescribed several medications by a physician not associated with the Wellness Center of Brunswick. Despite his extensive medical history and prior medical treatment, the victim’s physician at the Wellness Center of Brunswick conducted only a brief examination and prescribed a number of short-acting opiads that are not normally used to treat chronic back pain.
FAILURE TO CONDUCT A COMPREHENSIVE DRUG REVIEW CAN BE COSTLY AND FATAL
According to an autopsy conducted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the victim’s death was attributed to adverse interactions from the medications he was prescribed. The lawsuit alleged that the facility was negligent because they failed to conduct a proper medical evaluation. These was caused by the facility booking too many patients within a single day, limiting the amount of time prescribing clinicians could spend with each patient.
The facility was raided by federal authorities several months after the victim’s death. The facility owner, office manager, and several physicians were indicted on charges stemming from the facility’s operation. The federal indictment stated that physicians at the facility saw anywhere from 35 to 63 patients in a single day.
In a separate proceeding, the physician responsible for treating the victim plead guilty to prescribing addictive pain medication without a legitimate medical purpose. He is awaiting sentencing. In addition, the facility owner plead guilty to conspiracy to distribute drugs and the former office manager for the facility plead guilty to two counts of money laundering.
Statistics show that in the United States, 30 percent more money is spent on treating adverse drug effects than on all pharmaceuticals combined. As William Bennett’s story indicates, this can occur because physicians want to pack in as may patient visits as possible in order to maximize profits. As a result, physicians do not have the time to conduct comprehensive drug reviews, by inquiring whether the patient uses more than one pharmacy or sees more than one prescribing clinician.
You should speak to an attorney immediately if you or your loved one has been injured, or if your loved one has been killed as a result of an adverse drug interaction that occurred because of a prescribing clinician’s failure to conduct a comprehensive drug review. An attorney can help protect your legal rights and ensure that you receive just compensation for you losses.