Doctor Dies after Receiving a Massive Dose of Fentanyl

A cancer researcher died recently because of a nurse’s shocking medical error. According to the South Bend Tribune, David Boothman died when a nurse at an Indianapolis hospital administered a massive dose of the opioid fentanyl instead of hydrating solution, which she intended to administer. Boothman, age 61, had suffered a stroke and was recovering at the Sid and Lois Eskenazi Hospital when the nurse pumped fentanyl into his system. He died a week later from brain damage caused by the overdose.

One of Many Errors

Boothman apparently was taken to the hospital after falling because of a stroke. His prognosis was positive, however, and doctors expected him to make a recovery with the help of rehabilitation. Nevertheless, a series of errors at the hospital ultimately left him dead.

For example, he aspirated a large piece of food when a feeding tube was inserted, which required placement on a ventilator. A few days later, an alarm went off on a medication pump because an IV bag of Lactated Ringer’s solution was empty. This is a hydrating fluid.

Unfortunately, the nurse who replaced the hydrating fluid hit the wrong button on the pump, which released fentanyl. Though an alarm sounded, the nurse hit the silence button; and another nurse who checked the pump a few minutes later also missed the mistake. As a result, Boothman received a massive dose of fentanyl—nearly 20 times the amount he had received before.

When medical staff discovered the error, they did not immediately give him Narcan to counteract the fentanyl. Instead, hours passed as Boothman’s blood pressure collapsed.

The Error Went Almost Undetected

Even though Boothman slipped into a coma, the hospital nearly didn’t discover the medication error that injured him. In fact, the medication log apparently stated that he had received Lactated Ringer’s solution, which was clearly wrong.

These types of errors, unfortunately, are not rare in hospitals. And when medical staff is so confused that they administered the wrong drug, they typically remain in the dark about the mistake even after the patient has been injured. Even when they catch an error, hospitals and the staff are not anxious to tell patients or their family members about it.

We Can Help

Medication errors can severely injure and sometimes kill innocent patients. If you or a loved one has been hurt, please contact Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein LLP today. We can gather evidence to show that the hospital did not follow the correct standard of care. Call us today, 305-371-2692, to schedule a free consultation.