A 53-year-old man in Minnesota has died of a fatal overdose of the painkiller oxycodone administered to him by a nurse at a care home, according to a state investigation released Tuesday.
State investigators say a nurse mistakenly gave a short-term resident at a New Hope, Minnesota, nursing home a dose of oxycodone that was 20 times stronger than he should have received, the Star Tribune reports.
Gary Schmidt, of Plymouth, Minnesota, died within a few hours of being given the drug on April 2 2017 at North Ridge Health and Rehabilitation.
As the opioid epidemic rages in the US, many care providers are being held to higher standards, but the investigation attributed Schmidt’s death to the nursing home’s poor monitoring and dosage system.
Gary Schmidt, 53, allegedly died of an overdose of oxycodone after a care home nurse in Minnesota mistakenly gave him 20 times the appropriate dose
Schmidt was residing temporarily at New Ridge Health while he was in post-chemotherapy and radiation rehab.
He allegedly saw a nurse at 2am on the morning of April 17, complaining of pain at a level ’10,’ the Star Tribune reported.
She administered oxycodone, and the man returned to his room.
When the same nurse checked on Schmidt two hours earlier he seemed to be sleeping, according to the Star Tribune.
What neither she nor Schmidt realized was that instead of 30 milligrams, she had given him 30 milliliters, which amounts to 20 times more of the potent drug, the Schmidt family’s attorney, Joe Smith told the Star Tribune.
The investigation by the state Department of Health found that North Ridge had no system to detect changes in how powerful painkillers and other high-risk medications are administered.
The nurse also was blamed for giving the resident the incorrect dosage.
She reportedly told a state investigator that ‘she did not verify the concentration and dose of the oxycodone administered because she was very busy with multiple patients.’
The Mayo Clinic advises that for adults with severe pain should be started on nine milligrams of oral oxycodone every 12 hours, to be taken with food.
The Minnesota Health Department investigated the North Ridge nursing home in New Hope, Minnesota, following Schmidt’s death
Oxycodone solution is a liquid can be much more concentrated, intended to be diluted in another solution and delivered by IV, though it is unclear if this was the case in Schmidt’s death.
Schmidt had reportedly died by around 7:30 am when another nurse checked on him.
The state health department fined North Ridge an undisclosed amount.
Research from 2010 indicated that as much as half of nursing home attendants acknowledged that they had neglected or abused patients.
Another review of research, conducted in 2015, estimated that 10 percent of elders in nursing homes experience some kind of abuse.
Many nursing homes and other elder care facilities are facing increasing staff demands, as the American population ages. In 2010, people over 65 made up 13 percent of the US population, and the number of people in that age group is expected to double by 2050.
Diane Willette, an administrator with North Ridge reportedly told the Star Tribune that the facility is ‘confident that we have systems in place to help prevent something like this from ever occurring again.’
North Ridge did not respond to a request for comment.