For a 15-year-old, or anybody else, Michael Blankenship had already been through a lot when he arrived at Seattle Children’s hospital for some routine dental work.
What left him dead, was the painkiller-laced patch — meant to ameliorate chronic pain in cancer patients and others — that was prescribed to Blankenship.
Discharged to his mother’s home the day of the March 9 tooth extraction, Blankenship was found dead in his bed the following morning. According to a civil suit filed earlier this month in King County Superior Court, a medical examiner found Blankenship had died from a drug overdose caused by the fentanyl patch.
“I’ve already consulted with three experts across the country — all of them say this is a very egregious case,” said Chris Davis, a Seattle attorney representing Blankenship’s family. “First, he never should have been given (the fentanyl patch). Second, he was given the highest dose available.”
Addressing the allegations, Children’s Medical Director Dr. David Fisher admitted that hospital staff erred in prescribing fentanyl to Blankenship.
According to the Federal Drug Administration, wrong prescription of the fentanyl patch has become a persistent problem across the country during recent years leading to numerous reports of death and life-threatening injuries.
The FDA has been warning since 2005 against misuse of the patch system, which was designed for use only by patients who have developed a tolerance for opium-derived painkillers such as morphine. In a recent public health advisory, the agency warned against prescribing the patch in circumstances identical to those that Blankenship found himself in.
The FDA, according to the statement, “continues to receive reports of death and life-threatening side effects in patients who use the fentanyl patch.”
“The reports indicate that doctors have inappropriately prescribed the fentanyl patch to patients for acute pain following surgery, for headaches, occasional or mild pain, and other indications for which a fentanyl patch should not be prescribed,” the warning’s authors said, according to the FDA Web site.
In Blankenship’s case, he was given a patch designed to release 100 micrograms of the drug per hour — which was the maximum dose available. His dentists, according to the allegations, had not previously prescribed the drug to any of their patients.
The patch applied, Blankenship went to bed the night of the surgery. According to court filings, a family member found him unresponsive the following morning; paramedics attempted to revive him to no avail, and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
If you or a family member has been injured because of the fault of someone else; by negligence, personal injury, slip and fall, car accident, medical malpractice, trucking accident, drunk driving, dangerous drugs, bad product, toxic injury etc then please contact the Fort Worth Texas Medical Malpractice Attorney Dr. Shezad Malik. For a no obligation, free case analysis, please call 817-255-4001 or Contact Me Online
The Dr. Shezad Malik Law Firm is currently evaluating and accepting Fentanyl Patch Wrongful Death and Product Liability cases.