A hospital is under investigation after 75-year-old woman died in agony when a nurse accidentally gave her a drug used to execute death row prisoners. The victim, who has not been named, ‘would have fully experienced torturous, searing pain as her lungs shut down and she was unable to verbalize what was occurring being fully awake at the time,’ according to attorney Brian Manookian. The woman went to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in December 2017 to receive a PET scan after experiencing prolonged headaches, vision loss, and other symptoms.
She was claustrophobic, so a nurse was going her two milligrams of Versed, an anti-anxiety drug. But instead, the nurse gave the patient a deadly dose of Vecuronium, a drug that induces paralysis.
That caused the woman went into cardiac arrest and died in the days following the accident. ‘The nurse who went to retrieve the Versed in this case instead retrieved the lethal injection drug,’ said Manookian, who specializes in wrongful death cases. ‘It’s the drug used in the lethal injection protocol in Tennessee and other states to execute murderers and serial killers.’
An elderly woman experience agony in her final hours when she was paralyzed by the execution drug The accident prompted the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to investigate the medical center. According to the investigation, the nurse had a hard time finding the Versed in the medical cabinet. The nurse typed in the first two letters for versed -‘VE’- and instead lifted out a deadly dose of the paralyzing anesthetic. Proper protocol calls for nurses to monitor patients to see how they react to medications, but the woman was moved into the scanning machine, meaning she could not be properly observed.
The investigation concluded that the woman was probably in the scanning machine alone before anyone noticed what was happening. ‘The hospital failed to ensure all patients received care in a safe setting and staff followed standards of practice and utilized their nursing skills and training to ensure the correct medications were administered to all patient,’ according to the investigation. ‘VUMC was notified of an adverse finding by the Tennessee Department of Health after an on-site survey involving a patient who died in December 2017 followed a medication error,’ wrote John Howser, Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Chief Communications Officer. He added: ‘We identified that the error occurred because a staff member had bypassed multiple safety mechanisms that were in place to prevent such errors.’ Howser said he disclosed the error to the patient’s family, sparking the subsequent wrongful death suit.