Fatal prescription drug overdose sparks lawsuit

Fatal prescription drug overdose sparks lawsuit

A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed in San Mateo, California by the family of a man who was given ten times the prescribed amount of a cancer medication.  Armando Castellanos died on August 16, 2004 from this fatal drug overdose at the young age of 41.  This fatal prescription error was made by the staff at government-run San Mateo Medical Center located just south of San Francisco.  Investigations have indicated that the staff initially kept information from the decedent’s family about this fatal prescription error.

Mr. Castellanos was treated by the Center in 2004 for oral cancer.  In August, the staff at the hospital gave him ten times the prescribed amount of chemotherapy drug Cisplatin.  According to the coroner’s report, neither the coroner nor the family was informed of this fatal drug error until after the body had been cremated. 

The wrongful death of Mr. Castellanos and the concealment of this serious prescription error prompted a series of reforms in county hospital practices.  Such reforms include requiring all prescriptions be typed, rather than handwritten, to reduce the risk of communications errors.  Politicians are also calling for greater public reporting of medical errors and other medical malpractice situations. 

According to defense attorney, David Levy, the county is interested in settling this wrongful death case out of court.  Mr. Castellanos’ daughters, ages eight and 13, are still emotionally traumatized by their father’s untimely death, according to family members.  The family’s attorney says that it will be difficult to determine how much compensation is owed to the daughters from the negligent hospital.  The plaintiff’s attorney also states that expert review from oncology specialists will be required to determine fair compensation for the grieving family.   

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