MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — A $10 million judgment was affirmed by the Alabama Supreme Court against Springhill Medical Center for a wrongful death lawsuit, making it the largest amount ever affirmed by the Alabama Supreme Court in a single wrongful death lawsuit.
A Mobile County jury verdict for the family of Jay West was upheld. According to a release from law firm Cunningham Bounds, on June 14, 2014, West was at his cabinet shop using a table saw when he cut the tip of his left thumb. He drove himself to SMC where doctors were able to surgically repair his thumb.
After the procedure, a surgeon wrote West an order for Percocet for pain and ordered up to 4 milligrams of IV Dilaudid in case the Percocet did not control the pain, according to the release. West was then transferred to the hospital’s orthopedic floor for the night and was scheduled to go home on June 15. Within 10 hours after surgery, West was found dead in his hospital room.
The release said West’s nurse had given him four milligrams of IV Dilaudid and less than two hours later she gave him another four milligrams. After the second dose, attorneys claim West was not monitored by anyone on the nursing staff. Based on guidelines set in the Sentinel Event Alert, a published alert from the Joint Commission for Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations about the safe use of opioids, West should have been identified as being at “high-risk for opioid-induced depression,” according to the release.
The attorneys for the West family claimed SMC did not implement any safety measures nor “provide any training to its nursing staff on how to protect its patients from the known fatal dangers of opioid-induced respiratory depression.”
Brian Duncan, one of the attorneys who represented the West family, said, “Mrs. West deeply values the dedication and bravery demonstrated by every juror involved in the case. She expresses her heartfelt gratitude for the Alabama Supreme Court’s affirmance of the Mobile County Circuit Court’s rulings. After a nine-year journey, justice has at last been served for her husband’s tragic and entirely avoidable death.”