A Chicago woman has filed a lawsuit against South Holland assisted living facility alleging that her mother was given an unprescribed dose of morphine that led to her death just a few days later.
Sandra Byrd Peterson, a Chicago nurse, had plans to remove her mother from the care of South Holland early last year after noticing signs that the staff was not taking proper care of her mother.
On Feb. 2, 2015, during a night shift a few days before the move was set to happen, her mother was given a dose of morphine that had not been prescribed to her. She was in no pain and was overly medicated, which dangerously lowered her ability to breath.
She suffered serious respiratory distress and was taken to the hospital the next day. The Cook County medical examiner’s office reported that she was pronounced dead on Feb. 4, 2015.
The woman’s death was declared a homicide as a result of toxic levels of morphine and hydrocodone. The incident, as well as six other incidents in which patients received unprescribed morphine at South Holland, are currently under investigation.
Two patients died within two weeks after Peterson’s mother’s death and four others were hospitalized after being given morphine during the same night shift. The two deaths were determined to be from natural causes.
The nurse who administered the morphine, Talisha Lillard, was hired almost two weeks before Peterson’s mother’s death. The lawsuit accuses South Holland of failing to make sure that she had a valid license.
According to Peterson’s lawyer, there is reasonable evidence to believe that Lillard gave the patients morphine to ease the burden of the facility being understaffed. He said that she suggested in her deposition that she was very new and had a lot of patients to care for.
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