Anyone who has gone through surgery knows that recovery can be painful. And the only reason that the surgery itself is tolerable is because of pain medications or anesthesia. But imagine how painful it would be to have to endure surgery with a dose of medication that was not adequate to dull that pain.
That's what happened to one Minnesota man, and he is now suing Abbot Northwestern Hospital as well as the nurse who treated him. His medical malpractice and personal injury lawsuit alleges that he endured 57 minutes of excruciating pain because the drug-addicted nurse skimmed his pain medication.
The 57-year-old man went in to the hospital last November to treat his kidney stones. The surgeon had informed him that he would not likely feel pain during the procedure. But just before he was wheeled into surgery, the 34-year-old nurse told him he would have to "man up" because they could not give him a lot of medication.
During the procedure, it was obvious that the man was in severe pain. Meanwhile, the nurse was struggling to stay awake and was repeatedly ordered to "get back to her patient and figure out why the pain medication was not working."
The nurse also seemed unsteady and was slurring her words. Officials also discovered empty syringes in the pockets of her scrubs. She was charged with felony theft of a controlled substance following the incident, and is now serving three years of probation. She no longer practices nursing.
But the patient wants to hold the nurse and the hospital accountable for his unnecessary pain and suffering. His lawsuit seeks at least $50,000 in damages. He alleges that the hospital knew that the nurse had mishandled pain medications in the past and that it knew or should have known that she had demonstrated drug-seeking behavior.
Abuse of prescription painkillers is perhaps America's fastest-growing drug problem. While this is certainly a big issue in criminal law, it also becomes a civil matter when patients are harmed by the very healthcare professionals they must rely on while in the hospital.
Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune, "Abbott Northwestern patient left 'writhing in pain' sues," Abby Simons and Paul Walsh, Oct. 19, 2011