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Medication errors may lead to patient's death

A man in another state passed away in 2013 after allegedly being administered a drug that caused his death. The man's family in 2015 therefore decided to sue the medical system that gave him the drug. A jury recently awarded the family $10 million in the case. If a person in West Virginia or another state loses a loved one due to medical malpractice -- which may involve medication errors, for example -- he or she has the right to seek to hold the allegedly at-fault medical provider accountable through the civil court system.

The family of the man who died stated that he was given the drug Kayexalate -- a drug that is given to people whose bodies have too much potassium. The drug works by pulling potassium from a person's blood into his or her colon, at which point it is released when a person has a bowel movement. The lawyers of the family claimed that the doctor who decided to prescribe this drug for the man was not aware of the complications it could cause.

One complication of Kayexalate is that it can harm the colon. The lawyers asserted that the medical system could have opted to use dialysis instead of the drug since it would have been a safer option for reducing the body's potassium levels. The jury in the case agreed that the drug ended up destroying the man's colon and causing his death, although the medical system said it planned to appeal this case.

Sometimes medication errors and other medical malpractice mistakes in West Virginia lead to the deaths of loved ones, in which case the responsible health care providers may be held financially responsible. Liability has to be established through competent proof that is accepted by the court before claims for damages will be determined. A monetary award may help to cover funeral expenses and other costs stemming from the medical malpractice.

Source: baltimoresun.com, "UMMS must pay family $10 million in malpractice suit", Andrea K. McDaniels, Sept. 22, 2016

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