Mother fights for Leah's Law for monitoring post-op patients

New Jersey parents might be interested in what one mother is doing. The mother of an 11-year-old girl who died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in December 2002 is taking a case to the legislature of California in 2014. Her daughter's death has devastated her family, and she is making it her mission in life to change the way hospitals monitor post-op patients in the hope that she can make a difference in some other parents' lives. And, she is doing that with Leah's Law, which would direct hospitals to electronically monitor patients' breathing following surgery. The law, if passed, would particularly apply to post-op patients who receive opioids, which are strong painkillers.

Her daughter's death was preventable if she had been monitored properly. She died of undetected respiratory arrest following surgery. Monitors are regularly used in the ICU at most hospitals, but not usually on post-op patients. Hospital records show that no hospital personnel checked on the young girl between 8:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. when her mother found her “dead in bed.” An autopsy showed that an epidural for pain relief was incorrectly inserted and was filling her left lung rather than easing her pain.

The estimated figures in studies recently show that from 210,000 to 400,000 patients suffer some form of preventable harm in hospitals every year, contributing to their death. From 2004 to 2011, 29 percent of the harmful hospital events from opioid use, including death, involved inadequate patient monitoring.

Lack of patient monitoring is just one of the issues that could lead to the death of a loved one. A medical malpractice attorney could help anyone who is dealing with this type of tragedy by working with medical experts and building a case.