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Prince's estate sues hospital over death

Even being rich and famous doesn't guarantee you safety from medical mistakes.

The music icon Prince's death in 2016 shook up a lot of people -- especially when it was determined that the singer, who was known for his healthy lifestyle, died from a drug overdose. An autopsy revealed that his death was caused by fentanyl, a drug that's actually stronger by far than heroin. The singer reportedly used it to control painful joint and hip problems.

Police believe that the musician probably didn't realize that he was even taking the drug. No one is sure where the pills he was taking came from and they were shaped like the generic form of a much weaker drug, known as Vicodin.

However, his heirs claim that Prince wasn't just another victim on the growing list of victims that have fallen prey to the nation's opioid crisis. They say that he's actually a victim of malpractice.

The allegations stem from an incident shortly before the musician's death. As he was returning from a concert, he passed out. He was revived with Narcan, an emergency shot that's used to rescue people suffering a drug overdose.

Once he was transported to Trinity Medical Center in Cook County, he turned over one of the pills that he was using to the hospital. It was given to the hospital's pharmacist for testing. The pharmacist never tested it. Instead, he simply said that it seemed like Vicodin and sent it back.

The lawsuit essentially alleges that, given the circumstances, the hospital should have done more to identify the medication. The doctor and the pharmacist should both have realized that Vicodin alone wouldn't have caused the symptoms Prince had experienced. Had they taken more reasonable care, Prince would have known that he was using the much stronger drug and might not have died.

The statute of limitations on wrongful death claims in Illinois is two years. It isn't unusual for lawsuits like this, which can be very complex, to be filed close to the last possible moment. That way, as much evidence as possible has a chance to come to light. This case is a grim reminder that anybody, regardless of their station in life, can fall victim to negligence.

Source: TwinCities Pioneer Press, "Prince's family suing Walgreens, Illinois hospital for wrongful death," Amy Forliti, April 23, 2018

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