By Jen Kastner
ODESSA- A Basin family claims that Odessa's Basin Healthcare Center didn't give their daughter the attention she needed, which, they say, led to her tragic death.
In a lawsuit recently filed in Ector County, the family's attorney, Kent Buckingham, claims that 24-year-old Samantha Tijerina had her life taken far too soon due to negligence on the part of healthcare workers at Basin Healthcare Center.
According to the lawsuit, a little more than a year ago, Tijerina visited Basin Healthcare Center because her stomach hurt. She was also an employee there at the time. It was determined she had gallstones. Two days later, her gallbladder was removed. Afterwards, she reportedly experienced some pain so she was encouraged to spend the night at the hospital.
Buckingham explains, "As the night progressed, they gave her various pain medications [that were] very strong pain medications. Opiate pain medications."
He tells says the experts he's using in this case have informed him that all patients given these types of opiates are at a risk of developing Opiod Induced Respiratory Depression. That is essentially a decrease in the patient's ability to breathe. Buckingham says that means patients like Tijerina should be closely monitored during the course of their pain medication administration.
The medical records provided to NewsWest 9 by Buckingham show that vital signs were taken on Tijerina only up until midnight.
"From [midnight] to about 4 a.m., when Samantha's breathing was slowly deteriorating to the point where she stopped breathing, they failed to check her vital signs at all," he says.
Although the records show no vital signs were taken, there is documentation that nurses observed her during that time period. They reportedly noted she was "snoring."
Buckingham's experts say the snoring was a red flag that is often exhibited in patients who have an increased risk of developing Opiod Induced Respiratory Depression.
According to the lawsuit, at 4:50 a.m. she was found unresponsive and in cardiopulmonary arrest. Basin Healthcare Center staff called 911 and she was rushed to Medical Center Hospital where she was pronounced dead.
"Negligence was involved, big time," father, Marshall Tijerina, said.
He and Kate, her mother, are still deep in grief.
"It's so hard sometimes. I think it's not real [and that] she wasn't sick. It's not like I expected her to pass away," Kate Tijerina said.
NewsWest 9 repeatedly called Basin Healthcare Center on Wednesday to get their side of this issue but our inquiries went unanswered. When we went to the front desk and asked for the acting CEO to talk to us, we were told she wasn't able to at that time.
For now, the family plans to aggressively pursue this case. NewsWest 9 will continue to approach Basin Healthcare Center for an interview regarding the lawsuit.