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Widow awarded $30 million in wrongful death suit

A judge in Glynn County handed down a sizable award on April 8 to the plaintiffs in a medical malpractice claim. The widow of a man who died from a drug overdose after a Brunswick pain clinic treated him received the $30-million award in the wrongful death suit, and an additional $5,570 was awarded to the decedent's estate to cover funeral expenses and as compensation for his pain and suffering.

According to the lawsuit, the 52-year-old man went to the clinic in 2011 when he was experiencing chronic pain and respiratory problems. He died six days after the visit, when he was found in his home. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation's autopsy attributed his death to an adverse reaction due to a variety of incompatible drugs in his system. The man reportedly had an extensive medical history that included problems breathing, emphysema, asthma, chronic back pain, a nervous disorder, high blood pressure, degenerative disc disease and a heart condition. Despite the long history, the doctor at the clinic only examined the man for a short period of time before prescribing him with 270 tablets of Roxicodone and 90 doses of Xanax, according to the claim. The lawsuit further claimed that the doctor excessively prescribed drugs that had no legitimate function for the treatment of chronic back pain and that the clinic was negligent because it allowed the physicians to see so many patients a day that it could not accurately evaluate patients. One prescribing physician allegedly saw 63 patients in one day.

The award was the result of a default judgment. Physicians associated with the clinic have also pleaded guilty to a variety of criminal drug charges.

When a person dies as the result of medical error, his or her family may be able to bring forth a wrongful death suit against the party that caused his or her death. The family may discuss the case with a Georgia personal injury attorney to find out if they have a viable claim.

Source: The Florida Times Union, "Judge orders $30 million judgment against former Brunswick pain clinic," Terry Dickson, April 9, 2013

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