A Tucson family was awarded $6 million in a lawsuit brought after a relative died of a morphine overdose. The judgment cost is to be paid 90 percent by operators of a nursing home, Manor Care Health Services, and 10 percent to be paid by Tucson Medical Center (TMC).
Sylvia Culpepper, 81 years old, was admitted to TMC on Dec. 2, 2003, suffering from sciatica, a painful nerve condition.
On Dec. 4, 2003, the patient was prescribed 15 milligrams of morphine twice a day. Two days later, the dosage increased to 30 milligrams, twice a day. When Culpepper was transferred from TMC to Manor Care, prescription orders contained both dosages.
The lawsuit alleged that the Manor Care staff failed to note the discrepancy in the prescriptions and gave her both dosages, both twice a day.
An autopsy determined that Culpepper died of acute morphine intoxication.
Medical Analysis: Prescription errors are a common cause of injury to patients.