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Autistic Teen Dies Due to Fatal Prescription Error

October 24th, 2009
A fifteen-year old boy who recently visited the Seattle Children’s Hospital for extraction of four teeth, tragically died following prescription error by the hospital’s staff. Michael Blankenship was prescribed a Fentanyl patch for pain associated with recovery from the oral surgery. Blankenship, who was diagnosed with autism, was prescribed the patch because he had difficulty swallowing medication in pill or liquid form.
Fentanyl is a narcotic which is used to treat pain in cancer patients; pain which cannot be alleviated by other medication, often referred to as “breakthrough” pain. Fentanyl is much stronger than typical pain medication and, according to the website drugs.com, should not be taken unless the patient is already being treated with other opioid pain medication and has built a tolerance to the drug; other medications include morphine, oxycodone, and hydromorphone. Aside from Fentanyl’s specific design for cancer patients, the medication should only be prescribed under the care of a physician, as Fentanyl may adversely affect other medications or health conditions.
Clearly, Fentanyl was not created with the intention of treating post-surgical discomfort. Nevertheless, hospital staff not only prescribed the patch to Blankenship, but allowed the patient to be released from the hospital and the treatment to occur unsupervised in his home. Blankenship’s mother, as per instructions given to her, administered the Fentanyl patch to her son at his bedtime. By morning, Michael Blankenship had died from a narcotics overdose.
An investigation into hospital prescription procedures is underway and a spokesperson for the hospital stated changes in the methods used to prescribe and administer the patch have already begun.
Prescription medication is heavily regulated and for good reason. Many medications must be administered with the utmost of care for the associated instructions. Ignoring those instructions can lead to tragedy. Even the most minor of medical or pharmaceutical error can pose grave consequences to a patient and their loved-ones. The Lawyers of Pharmacy-Mistake.com are experienced in the successful representation of victims of medical and pharmaceutical error. If you, or someone you know, have been injured because of taking the wrong medicine, or because of some other mistake, please contact us at Pharmacy-Mistake.com for a free consultation. Our attorneys are available to assist in all aspects of your litigation.

A fifteen-year old boy who recently visited the Seattle Children’s Hospital for extraction of four teeth, tragically died following prescription error by the hospital’s staff. Michael Blankenship was prescribed a Fentanyl patch for pain associated with recovery from the oral surgery. Blankenship, who was diagnosed with autism, was prescribed the patch because he had difficulty swallowing medication in pill or liquid form.

Fentanyl is a narcotic which is used to treat pain in cancer patients; pain which cannot be alleviated by other medication, often referred to as “breakthrough” pain. Fentanyl is much stronger than typical pain medication and, according to the websitedrugs.com, should not be taken unless the patient is already being treated with other opioid pain medication and has built a tolerance to the drug; other medications include morphine, oxycodone, and hydromorphone. Aside from Fentanyl’s specific design for cancer patients, the medication should only be prescribed under the care of a physician, as Fentanyl may adversely affect other medications or health conditions.

Clearly, Fentanyl was not created with the intention of treating post-surgical discomfort. Nevertheless, hospital staff not only prescribed the patch to Blankenship, but allowed the patient to be released from the hospital and the treatment to occur unsupervised in his home. Blankenship’s mother, as per instructions given to her, administered the Fentanyl patch to her son at his bedtime. By morning, Michael Blankenship had died from a narcotics overdose.

An investigation into hospital prescription procedures is underway and a spokesperson for the hospital stated changes in the methods used to prescribe and administer the patch have already begun.

Prescription medication is heavily regulated and for good reason. Many medications must be administered with the utmost of care for the associated instructions. Ignoring those instructions can lead to tragedy. Even the most minor of medical or pharmaceutical error can pose grave consequences to a patient and their loved-ones. The Lawyers of Pharmacy-Mistake.com are experienced in the successful representation of victims of medical and pharmaceutical error. If you, or someone you know, have been injured because of taking the wrong medicine, or because of some other mistake, please contact us at Pharmacy-Mistake.com for a free consultation. Our attorneys are available to assist in all aspects of your litigation.

 
     
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Gavin P. Lentz, Esq.
Bochetto & Lentz

Gavin Lentz (right) was selected as a "Super Lawyer" for 2006-2009 and 2010-2015 in New Jersey by Philadelphia Magazine. He has also been selected as a "Super Lawyer" by Philadelphia Magazine and the Legal Intelligencer in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 - 2015.

On September 16, 2002 Mr. Lentz was selected as one of the top 50 lawyers in Pennsylvania by the Legal Intelligencer.

He has made many television appearances, including on Fox News, The Today Show, Inside Edition, and The Phil Donahue Show.

Mr. Lentz is a member of the American Trial Lawyers Association and the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

As a former prosecutor, he knows how to aggressively go after large pharmacy chains to prove the facts necessary to protect your loved one's rights.

 
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