Arizona families who have had a loved one die while they were hospitalized may be interested to learn that there has been a sharp increase in medical malpractice lawsuits surrounding patients who have been found dead under similar circumstances. In these cases, the patients had undergone a successful surgery and then suddenly died as they were recovering.
It is believed that opioid painkillers may play a part in the sudden death of these patients. The painkillers, which are widely used in health care facilities all over the country, can suppress the patient's respiratory system to the point where the brain is deprived of oxygen, potentially becoming a factor in a patient's death. Experts have reason to believe that approximately 50,000 patients may have been affected by the use of these painkillers in the last 10 years.
A team of doctors who have been reviewing the cases found that a majority of the malpractice claims were preventable. Additionally, the payouts for these types of claims can be up to $7 million or more. While the number of these cases can potentially be reduced by the use of oxygen-monitoring devices after surgery, very few hospitals actually utilize them.
Most of these lawsuits have presumably been grounded on a claim of hospital negligence. This is a subset of medical malpractice in which an attorney representing an injured patient or the family members of a patient who died while in the care of the facility will need to demonstrate that there was a failure on the part of the hospital or its staff to exhibit the requisite standard of care. Opinion testimony given by medical experts will be a significant part of the evidence that is presented.