This is sickening.
On December 13, 2012, a Baldwin County, Alabama, jury returned a $140 million wrongful death verdict against Thomas Hospital and its outsourced medical transcription companies for a woman’s death caused by a transcription error, which resulted in a fatal medication dosage.
In a complicated case that took more than four years to prepare for trial, Plaintiff’s attorneys revealed the circumstances that led to the needless death of Sharron Juno, a former patient of Thomas Hospital in Fairhope, Alabama.
On March 18, 2008, Ms. Juno was discharged from Thomas Hospital. Unbeknownst to her treating physician, the Discharge Summary he dictated was outsourced by the hospital and ultimately transcribed in Mumbai, India and New Delhi, India. The transcript contained three critical errors, including the dosage of Levemir insulin, which was written incorrectly as 80 units rather than eight (10 times the prescribed dose). The hospital violated its own procedures and multiple national patient safety standards by using the unreviewed, unsigned Discharge Summary to write admission and medication orders for Sharon Juno’s admission to a local rehabilitation facility. Shortly after her admission to the rehab facility, on March 19, 2008, Ms. Juno was given a fatal dosage of insulin based on the admission paperwork the hospital had sent to the rehab facility. The medication caused an irreparable brain injury that resulted in cardiopulmonary arrest. Sharon Juno never regained consciousness and died on March 27, 2008.
Beginning in 2007, Thomas Hospital authorized its U.S. based outsource transcription vendor — Precyse Solutions, LLC — to use overseas transcription in India to save 2 cents per line. Through a series of subcontracts, the actual transcription services were moved to India and performed by Medusind Solutions, Inc. in Mumbai and Sam Tech Datasys in New Delhi. Testimony at trial revealed that U.S. based employees of Precyse were highly critical of the poor accuracy of the transcription work performed overseas by Medusind and Samtech. Instead of instituting better quality control procedures, these employees were replaced with overseas reviewers. Consequently, no one in the United States reviewed the transcripts for critical errors before they were provided to Thomas Hospital.
“All life is sacred and Sharron Juno did not deserve to die this way. She died because the hospital administrators approved using transcriptionists in India to save 2 cents per dictated line. The problem was later compounded exponentially by the hospital preparing transfer orders for Ms. Juno from the unreviewed and unsigned transcription, which were then sent to a rehab facility in the form of a doctor’s order, all of which violated decades old and exceedingly clear national standards of care applicable to all U.S. hospitals,” said Skip Finkbohner, who tried the case with Toby Brown, Brian Duncan and David Wirtes of Cunningham Bounds, LLC.
Even after the death of Sharron Juno, Thomas Hospital continued its relationship with the transcription company for two more years. (SOURCE)
Worst of all, that $140,000,000 settlement amounts to little more than pocket change and a slap on the wrist. If we were really serious about ending these tragedies and punishing those who enable them we’d change the rules of corporate behavior so that human beings can be held responsible for the profit driven decisions they make in business. Let a few members of a hospital’s board of directors go to jail for a few years in addition to the big financial settlement and watch how quickly they shape up and put people before profits.