Medical practices had undoubtedly improved during the past few years, with the latest technologies at their arsenal, brought about by the need to provide a safer patient experience in hospitals and other medical care facilities. Looking back decades ago, however, some of the conditions were much different than they are now.
Lack of Supervision
Though the case had happened more than 30 years ago, medical malpractice lawyers in Long Island and other places in the country still find Libby Zion’s case relevant until now, especially regarding the issue of lack of supervision in hospitals. In March of 1984, Libby Zion, who was experiencing a bout of fever and chills, was admitted at the emergency room of the New York Hospital. Libby said that she had been taking Nardil, an antidepressant, and when asked if she was taking any illegal drugs, she said she wasn’t.
A second-year resident afterwards prescribed Demerol to address Libby’s shaking, then proceeded to sleep, and left the administration of the medication to a first-year resident, who was then on duty for more than 18 hours. In their fatigue, and without a senior doctor overseeing the whole process, both doctors failed to check the Physicians Desk Reference, which explicitly stated that Demerol should never be given to people also taking Nardil, for it can cause death. Libby was found dead five hours after the drug was administered.
A Different Light on Malpractice Claims
Libby’s family filed a wrongful death claim against the hospital, and was awarded $375,000 for damages, and a dollar for her wrongful death, with the jury partially accepting the hospital’s defense that Libby’s death was not caused by the Nardil-Demerol combination, but by a Nardil-cocaine combination. It was clearly not the outcome Libby’s family and lawyer were seeking, but the case brought a lasting effect on the medical industry. Libby’s death sparked a nationwide debate on doctors’ duty hours and the issue of sleep deprivation and lack of supervision. Ten years after her death, New York had implemented several changes in shift hours, allowing for what many believe is an improved state of medical care.
Locals seeking justice from healthcare providers’ negligence need the help of a Long Island medical malpractice lawyer, such as those from The Law Offices of Joseph Lichtenstein, who will fight for their client’s rights regardless of the odds. While medical malpractice suits are often decided by monetary compensation, they are not always about the money but bringing light to pressing issues that affect the well-being of patients. Medical malpractice lawsuits are known to have helped bring about changes in the healthcare industry that have improved patients’ safety and the quality of healthcare they get.
(Source: Op-Ed: A Deadly Visit to the Hospital — 30 Years Later, The National Law Journal)