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Hospital Neglect Increases as Patients Are Found Dead in Bed

Cases of Hospital Neglect are Increasing as More Seemingly Healthy Patients Are Suffering Serious Injury and Death

A recent Cleveland News Channel 5 Investigation detailed the “Dead in Bed” phenomenon, where otherwise healthy patients who have undergone successful surgery and who are recovering in their own rooms suffer serious injury or die unexpectedly.

What is Causing this Phenomenon?

Opioid painkillers are a major cause. While Ohio leads the nation in opioid overdoses from illegal opioid use, opioid painkillers are still widely used in hospitals as a form of pain management for patients. One of the main reasons illegal drugs like heroin are so dangerous is they cause a lack of oxygen flow to the brain. Like overdoses from heroin or fentanyl abuse, opioid painkillers suppress the respiratory system and deprive the brain of oxygen. This oxygen deprivation is believed to play a significant role in the rising number of “Dead in Bed” cases.

patient in a hospital bed

Families Want Answers

Despite more and more of these cases occurring, families who have lost their loved ones due to hospital neglect receive little in the way of answers from the hospital and doctors. According to the News Channel 5 Investigation, medical experts estimate that approximately 50,000 patients have been affected by the “dead in bed” epidemic over the last 10 years. These injured patients and/or their families are demanding answers for the seemingly avoidable injuries and/or deaths.

Like most medical negligence cases, most “Dead in Bed” cases are preventable. The News Channel 5 Investigation found that continuous electronic monitoring of these patient’s oxygen levels would significantly reduce the risk of injury and death, however, very few hospitals use this readily available technology on all post-surgical patients. Until hospital employ the use of pulse oximetry of all post-surgical patients receiving narcotic painkillers, medical malpractice lawsuits from this “Dead in Bed” phenomenon are likely to occur.

If you have questions about the “Dead in Bed” phenomenon or if you or a loved one has been injured or died as a result of medical malpractice, please contact us. For more information about Tittle & Perlmuter and our medical malpractice litigation experience, please visit