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A fatal medication error leads to state proposal to punish nurses

A fatal medication error that resulted in the death of a 7-year-old South Carolina boy appears to be the catalyst for proposed legislation aimed at punishing nurses. The boy died after a nurse administered an incorrect drug dosage that was 10 times what had been prescribed by the doctor.

The proposed legislation must still go through a committee process before it ever comes to a vote by the legislature. The law would take away the license of a nurse whose medication errors rose to the level of gross negligence. 

Under the proposed legislation, an incident in which a drug dosage mistake occurs because of a nurse's failure to read doctor's handwriting properly results in serious injury or death of a patient could lead to revocation of a nurse's license. The punishment imposed on the nurse in the death of the 7-year-old boy was a $2,000 fine and probation for a year.

Groups supporting nurses are opposed to the proposed bill because it treats nurses differently than other health care providers. The law would have no effect on medication errors caused by a negligent pharmacist or by a negligent physician.

Regardless of what happens with the legislative proposal, a victim of a medication error, or the family of the victim of a fatal medication error, may have a right to sue the health care provider whose negligence is the cause of the mistake. Prescription medication errors can occur for any number of reasons, so discussing the facts of a particular case with a personal injury attorney might be the best course of action for a person who has suffered a serious injury.

Source: Greenville Online, "Panel Oks bill to revoke nurse's license for med errors," Tim Smith, March 25, 2015

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