Adverse patient incidents continued to dog the hospital industry last week with the disclosure that hospitals in Florida and Illinois accidentally either killed or injured patients.
In Illinois, the University of Chicago Hospitals was evaluating its medication procedures after the hospital admitted fault in the death last week of a man who was given an overdose of cancer drugs.
A 41-year-old Des Plaines, Ill., man was given four times the prescribed dosage during a five-day period late last month, attorneys for the patient said. The hospital realized a physician had made the mistake, but attempts to remove the drug from the patient's system were unsuccessful.
"All of the processes that should have been followed were followed. This was human error," said a hospital spokeswoman.
Lawyers for the patient's family said they planned to file a wrongful death lawsuit. They also said they would challenge an Illinois law that limits damages in such cases to $500,000.
Meanwhile, a maintenance worker at Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne, Fla., turned the wrong valve and shut off a hospital oxygen line, sending a 55-year-old woman into a coma and leaving dozens of other patients without backup oxygen for as long as 15 minutes.
The woman was in critical condition as of late last week.
"At this point, her prognosis is not good," a hospital spokeswoman said. "We don't necessarily anticipate a recovery, but it's too early to tell."
None of the other 55 patients whose supplementary oxygen supply was interrupted suffered ill effects, she said.
The hospital blamed an unidentified maintenance worker who misread part of a construction plan. No immediate disciplinary action was taken against him.