The Atlanta Injury News Blog

Wife Sues Hospital After Husband Dies of Drug Overdose

Bonnie Turbyfield was driving her husband home from a routine knee surgery when Emmett Lee Turbyfield stopped breathing. Emmett Lee suffered irreversible brain damage from the incident and died two days later.

Bonnie blames her husband's death on the hospital's alleged failure to train its nurses, CBS Atlanta News reports. She's now pushing for a continuing education mandate for nurses, and has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Northwest Georgia Orthopaedic Surgery Center and the doctors and nurses who treated Emmett Lee Turbyfield.

According to the suit, registered nurse Lisa Jarvis administered 2 mg of the powerful painkiller Dilaudid after Emmett Lee's surgery. The problem was the physician had not prescribed the drug. The suit claims that the medical staff should have monitored Emmett Lee for several hours after the procedure because he had obstructive sleep apnea.

However, nurses reportedly discharged Emmett Lee from the hospital less than 30 minutes after the Dilaudid was administered. The drug prevented him from waking up when he stopped breathing in his sleep, cutting off the oxygen flow to his brain, the suit alleges.

"This should never happen," Bonnie's attorney Bill Parker told CBS Atlanta. "The nurses at this particular surgery center were not being educated; not being trained; not required to."

In general, medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional's negligent act or omission causes harm to the patient. When the defendant is a hospital, the court often looks at the training, safety precautions, and standard of care employed by the hospital. The policies are then compared to those of other hospitals.

Bonnie's suit is probably seeking damages for Emmett Lee's medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. In wrongful death suits, the decedent's family may seek damages for loss of consortium as well.

Bonnie isn't the first to push for increased nurse training. Last legislative session, State Sen. Buddy Carter introduced a bill that would create a continuing education mandate for the nursing field. The bill failed.

"I think patients are at risk any time a health care professional, whether it be a nurse or whoever, isn't keeping up with the changes in medicine," Carter said, according to CBS Atlanta. He plans to reintroduce the legislation next year.

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