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May 19, 2009

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LastoftheZucchiniFlowers

In 2002 I was permanently damaged by a tenfold, recurring overdose of gentamicin (instead of 80mg I recieved 800mg!) in a military hospital that had a pharmacy dosing service. Additionally peak and troughs though ordered, were not done as charting revealed that 'patient is a hard stick'. I WON my law suit against Uncle Sam not because of legal skill, but rather because I was a practicing provider at that time and a former naval medical officer and knew how dismal care could be in military treatment centers. The astounding incompetence of all departments (nursing, pharmacy and at the top - surgical) were the embodiment of the legal definition of res ipsa loquitur (the thing speaks for itself). Because I did NOT die, my case netted in the tens of thousands as opposed to the hundreds of thousands or million and a half, had my husband become a widower and my children motherless as a result of these hideous shortfalls in staff skill/mental competance and systemwide failure to respond. Patients have access to legal recourse and MUST be vigilant in seeking that recourse. No fewer than four different legal firms opted not to take my case due to their general lack of knowledge vis a vis aminoglycoside poisoning. The clincher for me was the legal group whose senior partner had been an ICU nurse prior to changing professions. SHE and I singlehandedly beat Uncle into submission. It can be done - but is not for the weak of heart.

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