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Withheld County, MA

In this negligence matter, the plaintiff alleged that the defendants were negligent in negligently prescribing an opioid patch which resulted in an overdose that killed the decedent. The defendants, an orthopedic surgeon, an anesthesiologist and a physician’s assistant, denied the allegations of negligence and disputed that there was any deviation from acceptable standards of care.

The 49-year-old male plaintiff was admitted to the hospital for back pain and underwent back surgery in the form of a total laminectomy of L2-L5 and fusion of L3-L4. This surgery was performed by the defendant orthopedic surgeon. The surgeon placed the decedent on pain medication in the form of Fentanyl IV which was patient controlled, and Ketamine IV together with epidural Bupivacaine. The following day, the defendant surgeon discontinued the IV Fentanyl and started the decedent on a Fentanyl patch. The dosage was ________ mcg per hour.

The same day, the defendant anesthesiologist came to see the decedent as part of the chronic pain service and the dosage of the patch was decreased to 75 mcg per hour and the Fentanyl IV was restarted. The next day, the patch dosage was increased back up to ________ mcg and the IV was again ordered to be discontinued. The decedent was discharged without being seen again by the anesthesiologist. Discharge instructions included three 50 mcg hour Fentanyl patches every 72 hours for 21 days. Two days later, the decedent was found unresponsive at home and an autopsy determined that he died of opioid overdose.

The plaintiff brought suit against the defendant anesthesiologist, the physician assistant who ordered the medication and the defendant anesthesiologist. The plaintiff alleged that they were negligent in ordering a high dosage of the opioid medication and failed to properly supervise the patient’s condition while on the medication. The plaintiff alleged that the defendants were also negligent in discharging the patient while he was on the high dosage medication and required supervision. The defendants denied the allegations and maintained that there was no deviation from acceptable standards of care.The matter was mediated and the parties agreed to a confidential settlement of $________ to resolve the plaintiff’s claims.

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