Monday, April 30, 2018

Family of late pop singer Prince sues everyone for malpractice

According to the New York Times, “The suit claims that Prince’s death was a “direct and proximate cause” of the hospital failing to appropriately diagnose and treat the overdose, as well as its failure to investigate the cause and provide proper counseling.”

The suit names a hospital and an emergency department physician in Moline, Illinois where Prince’s private jet made an emergency landing when he became unresponsive during a 2016 flight home to Minnesota from a concert in Atlanta.

An employee of his told paramedics who met the plane that he “may have taken a Percocet.” After Prince regained consciousness, he supposedly told the ED doc he had taken two Percocets, but she did not believe him because it had taken two doses of Narcan, an opioid antidote, to revive him.

Friends said he refused all testing including blood and urine toxicology because he was trying to keep his addiction a secret.

One of the pills from the bottle in his possession was sent to the hospital pharmacy for identification. It “had the inscription Watson 853,” and the hospital pharmacist said it was Vicodin (hydrocodone and acetaminophen).

The pill looked like Vicodin, but an investigators found that the pills actually contained synthetic fentanyl, a much stronger drug, which was purchased on the black market. He died a week after the Moline hospital visit having taken more of the fentanyl-tainted drug.

The lawsuit “claims that Prince’s death was a ‘direct and proximate cause’ of the hospital failing to appropriately diagnose and treat the overdose, as well as its failure to investigate the cause and provide proper counseling.”

Is this suit meritorious? Probably not. Here’s why.

Prince refused blood and urine testing which may have alerted the emergency physician to the fact that he had a higher level of opiates in his blood. The New York Times article failed to note he signed himself out of the Moline hospital against medical advice, suggesting he would not have agreed to treatment had it been offered.

The suit claims the hospital pharmacy should have analyzed the pill. I know of no hospital that has the resources to do that.

“The family is also suing Walgreens, charging its employees with ‘dispensing narcotic prescription medications’ to the singer for an invalid medical purpose and failing to conduct the appropriate drug utilization review,” said the Times.

However, the drug the singer overdosed and died from was obtained illicitly, a fact Walgreens could not have known. In addition, Prince had used drugs provided by friends who got prescriptions in their names from various doctors.

Prince died without leaving a will which has tied up his $200 million estate. So far, his nearest relatives—a sister and five half-siblings—have received nothing, but the executor and various lawyers have collected $5.9 million and are asking for $2.9 million more.

At the time of his death 2 years ago, his half-brother Alfred told ETonline he had not seen Prince in almost 15 years and said, “I miss my brother because my brother was everything in the world to me.”

They must have been very close.


artiger said...

I hated to see one of the greatest musicians of my time go too early, as I liked his music, but let's just call it what it is...the guy was too stoned to think about financial planning, and what he left behind is now a money grabbing free for all, with a frivolous lawsuit that will go nowhere as a cherry on top.

Anonymous said...

I had all the same thoughts about that lawsuit. I hate when proper emergency care is rewarded with a lawsuit. But we go to work each day no matter what. Can only control our own actions. That’s the best we can do.

Skeptical Scalpel said...

It’s a shame for all the defendants. Let’s hope justice is served.

frankbill said...

The lawyers will be served.

Lady Anne said...

So - the family is suing a pharmacy that had nothing to do with the pills he took? They are suing the doctor for not providing counseling to a man who walked out AMA, and the hospital for not doing something they were not able to do? Why don't they sue the man down the street? Or the man in the moon?
"Lord what fools these mortals be!"

frankbill said...

Many times it doesn't matter who's right or wrong. Insurance companies will pay money to who ever is that is suing them as it can be cheaper then going to court.

Skeptical Scalpel said...

Lady Anne, I agree with everything you said.

Frank, what you say is true in many cases. This one is high profile. I wouldn’t settle if I was running an insurance company.

frankbill said...

If Prince was treated like the person in this video the family would have the right to sue.

I would guess what this video shows happens more then us non medical people know.

Skeptical Scalpel said...

Frank, I tweeted about that video yesterday. It is disgusting.

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