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Parents Sue Rehab Facility, Alleging Overmedication Caused Two Deaths

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP

The mother of a deceased patient is suing Tennessee’s largest drug-rehabilitation facility, alleging her son died because his physicians did not properly manage his care. The man died on what would have been his 20th birthday.

The mother accuses New Life Lodge and its physicians of medical malpractice, negligence and wrongful death. She is seeking more than $13 million in damages.

The mother claims that her son died as a result of being over-medicated by his physicians. According to her complaint, he had been prescribed a variety of medications including phenobarbital, phenergen and suboxone. Doctors also prescribed the antihistamine vistaril, even though the man had reported antihistamine allergies.

The mother further claims her son was unresponsive for four hours before medical staff noticed something amiss.

The man’s cause of death was listed as hypoxic brain injury, which is caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain.

Man’s Overmedication not an Isolated Case

Later that summer, another New Life Lodge patient died – this time a 29 year-old mother who was supposed to graduate from treatment on the day of her death. Her mother is also suing for medical malpractice, negligence and wrongful death.

The woman’s autopsy revealed that she died from combined drug toxicity caused by a mix of the anti-depressant citalopram and therapeutic levels of trazodone. According to witnesses, the woman had been very ill for several days leading up to her death. They reported that she had a heavy cough, difficulty breathing and could barely speak.

By the time medical staff took the woman to the hospital, she could not stand or walk on her own. Still, staff made the decision to transport the woman by van to a hospital over 30 miles away, instead of calling an ambulance or transporting her to a medical facility that was just eight miles from the treatment center. She died on the way.

Deaths Spur Larger Investigation

Following the deaths, both the state of Tennessee and local media outlets launched investigations into improper behavior at New Life Lodge. Allegations include overcrowding, failure to properly supervise medicated patients, conflicts of interest and employee drug addiction.

Families of patients who die in drug treatment facilities are well-advised to contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can help advise them of their rights.

Source: New Life Lodge Sued Over Second Patient’s Death

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