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Lawsuit Alleges Negligence by NC Medical Center, Leading to Wrongful Death

Siblings Christopher Utt and Tracy Leonard filed a medical malpractice lawsuit in Davidson County Superior Court alleging that their father was given the wrong medication, which caused him to die.

Davidson County’s The-Dispatch.com reports that the suit was filed on behalf of Terry Wayne Utt, 60, who died on July 5, 2011 at Winston-Salem’s Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. The lawsuit names the medical center, the North Carolina Baptist Hospital and an anesthesiologist who works at the center as defendants.

Terry Utt was reportedly brought into the emergency room at Wake Forest on June 25, 2011 with a number of medical problems, including renal (kidney) issues. He was treated for hypotension, bacterial pneumonia and possible septic shock. A doctor’s report indicated that he had suffered a gastric perforation.

The perforation required surgery to repair, and by June 27, Terry’s condition had improved and he was cleared for the procedure. There were no surgical complications and the surgeon stated that Terry had tolerated the procedure well.

However, the anesthesiologist, Dr. Ruth Barron Hyde, mistakenly administered two milliliters of Sufentanil in place of the milder Fentanyl, according to attorneys for the Utt siblings.

Sufentanil is a potent post-surgery medication with clear guidelines set forth by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA states that administration of the drug should be individualized according to various factors of the patient, including physical status and underlying conditions, with a warning to use caution for patients with liver or kidney dysfunction.

Terry Utt was admitted and treated for kidney problems.

The attorneys say that Dr. Hyde admitted to the error, but later amended and truncated her surgical notes to leave out the admission. Following the administration of Sufentanil, Dr. Hyde stated that Terry became hypotensive and non-responsive.

The effects of Sufentanil can be reversed with another medication, Narcan. However, The-Dispatch.com reports, Dr. Hyde did not notice the erroneous administration for around 55 minutes, at which point Terry was already non-responsive.

If you or a loved one has been affected by medical malpractice or wrongful death, the Raleigh injury lawyers at Kelly & West may be able to help. Contact us to discuss the details of your case today.

Please note: Kelly & West are not representing the people in this case.

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