Morphine pump released too much at once, says suit against Medtronic

Kelly Holleran Mar. 31, 2010, 2:15am

A St. Clair County man claims a morphine pump inserted into his spine released too much of the pain killer into his body, causing him to black out for three days.

Robert C. Prescott filed a lawsuit March 11 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against Medtronic USA.

Prescott claims doctors inserted a drug infusion system calibration device manufactured by Medtronic into his back on Aug. 15, 2005, which should have injected morphine into Prescott's back on a regular basis to help alleviate severe back pain he experienced.

Until September 2006, the pump worked well, according to the complaint. The only problem Prescott experienced with the pump occurred when it sounded an alarm to announce low morphine levels, even though the morphine levels in the pump were adequate, the suit states.

Then, in September 2006, Prescott visited his doctor to have the pump refilled with morphine, the complaint says.

"Shortly after leaving the doctor's office, the plaintiff became extremely tired, nauseous and almost passed out," the suit states. "He was taken to Memorial Hospital in Belleville, Illinois, where he was apparently 'out' for three full days. At that time, he had a diabetic problem and was unaware that his problems could have been due to the overloading of morphine into his system."

Not until the spring of 2008 did Prescott discover that his prior hospitalization occurred because the pump had malfunctioned and dumped the morphine into his body at once, he claims. Worried the incident would occur again, Prescott had doctors remove the pump from his spine in September 2008, according to the complaint.

Because of the defective nature of the pump, Prescott claims he sustained pain and suffering and incurred extensive medical bills.

In his complaint, Prescott seeks a judgment of more than $75,000, plus costs.

Bernard J. Ysursa of Cook, Ysursa, Bartholomew, Brauer and Shevlin in Belleville will be representing him.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 10-L-116.

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