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Methadone Overdose Leads to Jury Award

The survivors of a woman who died as a result of a methadone overdose in 2008 have been awarded $512,000 by a jury in New London Superior Court.

According to court documents, Jill Procaccini, 32, died just hours after she was treated and released from the Lawrence + Memorial Hospital emergency room. Procaccini’s estate has filed suit against emergency room physician, Thomas E. Marchiondo and the Emergency Medicine Physicians of New London, a firm which hired the emergency room doctors at L+M hospital. Lawrence + Memorial Hospital had also been named as a defendant in the lawsuit, but was removed from the suit before the malpractice suit went to trial.

Attorney for the plaintiffs, Matthew Auger of the Suisman Shapiro law firm, stated within a written summary of the case that Procaccini had spent much of her both as a heroin and cocaine addict and had been battling those addictions for many years.

On Nov. 28, 2008, New London firefighters and hospital paramedics found her near death and administered Narcan, the antidote to an opiate overdose. After being administered the anti-overdose drug, Procaccini’s breathing was restored. She was both alert and oriented when she was transported to the Lawrence + Memorial Hospital emergency room.

According to the summery, two nurses noted in her chart that she was a methadone consumer, but Marchiondo, the attending physician, documented heroin use only. A urine test was positive for both opiates and methadone.

Procaccini was released at 11:45 p.m., five hours after her admission. Her vital signs showed as being stable and the physician made the assumption that Procaccini had recovered.

Procaccini died six hours later as a result of methadone toxicity, according to the state office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

The estate of Procaccini alleges that Dr. Marchiondo ignored the medical history obtained her medical history as well as the positive results of the urine test for methadone.

Because methadone, unlike heroin, has a half-life of 15 to 55 hours, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had issued an alert on methadone in 2006. The alert noted the effect of the drug as a respiratory depressant that lasted longer than both the drug’s analgesic and painkilling effects.

The jury sided with the plaintiffs saying that although there was the chance that Procaccini ingested additional methadone after she left the hospital, the attending physician should have treated the potential methadone overdose and admitted her to the hospital to be monitored for a full 24 hours in order to prevent the potential of methadone overdose.

Overcoming drug addiction can prove to be difficult for some. Even though Procaccini’s family admits that it was their daughter’s choice to use drugs, there is still the reasonable expectation that doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers will pay attention to a patient’s history and act in accordance with that history to give patient’s the best care possible. No matter what the profession or how long someone has been at it, mistakes can be made. Medical malpractice or medical negligence can occur when a doctor, nurse or other healthcare professional makes a mistake or misjudgment that can cause harm to patient or to their family.

At Bottar Leone, PLLC, we are medical malpractice lawyers in New York and take great pride in our reputation for being dedicated to the needs of patients and their families. We have enjoyed three decades of being service to our clients in matters of medical malpractice, personal injury and wrongful death.

If you, your child, or a loved one has been injured due to a case of medical malpractice, contact Bottar Leone, PLLC to learn about your rights. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your case, you may be entitled to compensation for health care, medical expenses, hospital bills, and loss of income for time off the job, funeral costs, and pain and suffering.

Contact us today either by telephone at (315) 313-6809, (888) 979-1689, or you may reach us by sending an email to info@bottarlaw.com.