Family loses lawsuit against Marshall Medical Center over man's - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Family loses lawsuit against Marshall Medical Center over man's death after appendectomy

Jason Guffey (Source: Family) Jason Guffey (Source: Family)

A Marshall County judge has ruled against a malpractice lawsuit.

The family of Jason Guffey was suing over his death after what was supposed to be the routine removal of his appendix. Guffey died at the age of 33 in 2010 at Marshall Medical Center after the procedure.

Attorneys for the plaintiff were asking for $5 million in punitive damages to, what they call, send a message to keep another family from experiencing that kind of grief.

They argued when a doctor at Marshall Medical Center North changed Guffey's medication from morphine to Dilaudid, that is what caused his death. Dilaudid is seven times as strong as morphine.

Plaintiff attorneys say when staff checked on Guffey and found him unresponsive. The first medication they gave him was Narcan, a drug used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

Defense attorneys argued there are no guarantees with medicine and that everyone followed the appropriate standard of care.

Defense attorneys said the posterior wall of Guffey's heart was thickened, which was severely abnormal and that contributed to his death.

The judge ruled in favor of the defendants on Friday. This included the hospital, three nurses, and the estate of the late Dr. Albert Smith, who ordered the drug change.

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