Hospital medication mistake kills woman

March 20, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
A hospital is in trouble after a medication mistake cost a life.

It happened last August at Washington hospital in Fremont. The State Department of Public Health released its report today.

A $25,000 dollar fine levied by the state in this case is the highest the state can levee on a hospital for an error like this.

This case involved an 87-year-old woman who was admitted to Washington Hospital last August. She was being treated for shortness of breath, heart failure and dementia.

Sometime during her stay, a nurse mistakenly gave the unidentified woman another person's medications including Methadone and Cipramine, normally prescribed to treat drug addictions.

Methadone is supposed to be used to manage pain, and the patient went into respiratory and cardiac arrest and died on August 19th.

On Thursday, documents were released by the state's Department of Health Services said: "Medications admitted to patient A were intended for patient B, a different patient admitted to Three West. Further review of patient A's record showed that the nurse gave Methadone in the absence of any pain."

Washington Hospital released a statement saying: "Everyone at Washington Hospital deeply regrets what has happened and immediate steps were taken to fully understand how the error occurred and to prevent further reoccurrences," said Washington Hospital CEO Nancy Farber.

Two other hospitals in the Bay Area were also cited by the state for medication errors, but in those cases no body died. Those include Valley Care Medical Center in Pleasanton and UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco.

The hospitals will now have 10 days to appeal and they also have to come up with a "plan of correction," to prevent similar accidents or incidents from happening in the future.