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Washington County man sues Iowa City hospital for causing opioid overdose
Lawsuit: He was given 10 mg instead of 1 mg of pain medication
A Washington County man is suing Mercy Hospital in Iowa City for giving him 10 times the dose of an opioid drug that a doctor prescribed for pain in 2021 after breaking ribs in a fall.
Terry Fisher, 60, of Wellman, went to Mercy Hospital’s emergency room in October 2021 after a fall at home and initially was given a 1 mg injection of Dilaudid — an opioid pain medication that treats moderate to severe pain — for his broken ribs, according to the lawsuit filed earlier this year in Johnson County District Court.
A doctor then ordered another 1 mg of the drug, but Fisher was given 10 mg by an “employee” of the hospital, the lawsuit asserted. The staff member isn’t identified because the hospital won’t provide that information, according to the suit.
The hospital, in initial court documents, has denied the allegations or stated there was lack of information.
Fisher lost consciousness due to the overdose, became unresponsive and started turning blue and made “noises that were alarming” to his wife, Karri, and their daughter, Mary Fisher.
Karri and Mary Fisher “yelled for help” and Mercy Hospital staff revived Fisher with naloxone, a drug used to counteract the effects of an opioid overdose, the lawsuit stated. Fisher was then admitted to the intensive care unit due to the overdose, which made it necessary for him to remain on a naloxone drip through the next day.
Mercy Hospital staff told Fisher and his family about the medication error and assured the family they wouldn’t be billed for the hospital’s mistake, which caused the overdose, according to the lawsuit.
Later, Fisher requested all of his billing and medical records but the hospital denied access to the complete records, which were not complete or accurate, the suit stated.
The billing records that Fisher did receive didn’t show payment from any independent source, but he found out Mercy had submitted a $19,000 bill to a third party — insurance.
Fisher was billed for expenses relating to the overdose, including the naloxone, which the hospital used because of its “own negligence,” the suit contends.
Fisher also asserted that the hospital’s actions of not providing his billing records shows evidence of fraudulent misrepresentation by making it appear that nothing was being billed to Fisher.
Karri Fisher suffered emotional distress and Mary Fisher suffered “bystander emotional distress” resulting from the emotional impact of seeing and hearing the “negligence committed” by the hospital when the staff member gave Fisher the wrong drug dosage, the suit contends. A “reasonable person” in either woman’s position would believe their loved one could have a “serious injury or be killed.”
According to the lawsuit, the $250,000 damages cap placed on Iowa medical malpractice cases is insufficient compensation in this case.
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