Medication Dosing Lawsuit Results in $1.75 Million Settlement in Death of Woman

2020 Medical Malpractice Case Report
By Attorney Nicholas D. Cappiello

Physician's under-dosage of anti-seizure medication, leads to patient's seizures, brain damage, deconditioning, pneumonia, and ultimately death

Plaintiff’s decedent died from pneumonia at age 66 following a seizure and a stroke after she was under-medicated with anti-seizure medication.

Her prior medical history included hip replacement, hypertension, osteoporosis, and a TIA requiring Plavix therapy.

On 8/25/14, plaintiff’s decedent suffered a traumatic brain bleed after experiencing a sudden onset of difficulty speaking and falling down a flight of stairs.

From 8/25/14 through 9/26/14, her hospital course was complicated by seizures related to her brain bleed, pneumonia, pleural effusions, hypertension, and atrial flutter with rapid ventricular response. She was initially administered anti-seizure medication (Keppra) 1000mg for the seizures; however, she continued to experience seizures despite Keppra.

On 9/26/14, plaintiff’s decedent was discharged to a rehabilitation hospital, where she had intact orientation but decreased balance, recall and memory. Throughout her rehab stay, she was maintained on Keppra 1500 mg PO BID for seizure prophylaxis.

On 10/10/14, the defendant physician discharged her home with services. Upon discharge, plaintiff’s decedent was to continue on Keppra 1500 mg PO BID until further follow up with neurology; however, the defendant physician entered an order for Keppra 500mg rather than 1500mg, and the defendant nurse signed off on the order.

At home, plaintiff’s decedent took the Keppra 500mg as instructed. On 10/12/14, plaintiff’s decedent suffered another seizure and was taken to the hospital. An MRI demonstrated left posterior MCA infarction with possible right cerebellar involvement.

On 11/3/14, she was diagnosed with pneumonia and a urinary tract infection and treated with antibiotic therapy. She returned to post-stroke baseline once her infections were under control and, on 11/11/14, was transferred back to the rehab facility with a diagnosis of stroke, brain dysfunction, chronic pain, hypertension, atrial flutter, dysphagia, aphasia, deconditioning, and pneumonia.

On 11/17/14, she was re-admitted to the hospital with respiratory distress and hypoxia. She died that same day from pneumonia.

The plaintiffs claimed that the defendants negligently under-dosed plaintiff’s decedent with anti-seizure medication, thereby causing repeat seizures which in turn caused her to suffer brain damage and led to further deconditioning, pneumonia, a UTI, and ultimately her death.

The defendants maintained that that nothing they did or failed to do caused plaintiff’s decedent’s injuries. They maintained that plaintiff’s decedent’s death from pneumonia was not related to the seizure medication dosing and further that her seizure and stroke at issue were a consequence of her pre-existing brain hemorrhage and seizure activity rather than of anti-seizure medication dosing.

The case was settled for $1.75 million.

Lubin & Meyer attorneys Andrew C. Meyer Jr. and Nicholas D. Cappiello represented the plaintiff in this lawsuit.

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