A jury in Arizona has awarded $6 million to the family of Sylvia Culpepper after the 81 year old died from an overdose of morphine in a nursing home. Culpepper, who was an active senior, was in the ManorCare nursing home only to recover from a back injury, and was expected to return home after her recovery.
According to reports, the nursing home resident was diagnosed with sciatica in late 2003, and prescribed 15 milligrams of morphine, twice daily. Two days later, while still in the hospital, her morphine dosage was doubled. When she was discharged to Manor Care, both of the prescriptions went with her, and the nursing home staff immediately began giving Culpepper both dosages, twice daily, totally unaware of the mix up.
Attorneys representing the family said the jury blamed the nursing home for failing to recognize morphine intoxication and overdose, and for understaffing.
“ManorCare gave her the morphine and within 24 hours of getting that dosage, she was dead. They weren’t watching her,” said attorney Brad Astrowsky. “The lesson in all of this is that you shouldn’t get transferred to a nursing home on the weekend because the quality and quantity of the nursing staff is very often less than you would find during the week,” Astrowsky said.
The jury’s verdict won’t have to be paid however as the case was settled before the jury reached its verdict.