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A deadly mistake at Kings County Hospital

June 12, 2013 2:40:45 PM PDT
A 77-year-old woman was given the wrong medication at a New York City hospital, and it killed her. It's all in an autopsy obtained by the Eyewitness News Investigators.

Perley Mae Covington's family says they just wanted to know how she died and they couldn't get answers from Kings County hospital. They claim officials admitted there had been a mistake. Now, we know exactly what that mistake was and who made it.

"We were hoping that she was going to be released back home that same day, but instead I received that call," Annie Alford, the victim's daughter, said.

Alford and her sisters had been so confident their 77-year-old mother was in safe hands at the emergency room at Kings County hospital, they briefly went home on that day in mid-March to get a change of clothes. Alford says someone from the hospital suddenly phoned.

"They told me they had made a mistake and gave her the wrong medicine and it was a matter of time before she died and I needed to get there," Annie said.

Perley Mae Covington was a diabetic, but her daughters say she had been stable and talking when they left her.

"She was fine, she was fine," her daughter, Perley Covington said.

But by the time they got back to the ER, it was too late. The sisters say a director came to talk to them.

"He admitted that somebody, he didn't say who, gave my mother the wrong medication," Perley said.

The Covington family understandably wanted an explanation in writing, but say they ran into roadblocks. We started pressing the Medical Examiner's office. Weeks went into months and the autopsy was finally released.

The manner of death of Perly Mae Covington: Accident. Medication error. She died of acute lidocaine toxicity. Lidocaine, a local anaesthetic, was inadvertently administered to her intravenously. She suffered a seizure.

"I'm still hurting because they killed my mother, plain and simple. Simple as that," Perly said.

"The entire family, we emotionally hurt, and and we're still grieving," Annie said.

Kings County is operated by the City's Health and Hospitals Corporation, which gave us this statement: "We have apologized to the family and offered our deepest condolences. This should not have happened. The nurse who made the mistake violated our safety procedures and has been suspended pending termination."

The family says all this is news to them.

"We still aint hear nothing. We didn't get a sorry. We didn't get a flower," Antoine Alford said. "Kings County is still seeing people. We don't want this to happen to no family."

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