Christus cleared of negligence in case over man's morphine hallucinations

By David Yates | Sep 22, 2010

Last March, the Southeast Texas Record reported on a medical-malpractice suit filed by Jasper County resident Burl Corkran and his wife, Erin, who claimed Christus Hospital St. Elizabeth administered morphine after informing doctors Corkran was allergic.

On Tuesday, Sept. 21 a Jefferson County jury found no negligence on the part of Christus and its nurses, awarding the couple no damages for Corkran's alleged "drug psychosis" injury.

Drug psychosis is a psychotic state induced by excessive dosage of certain therapeutic drugs as well as drugs of abuse.

Court papers show Burl was admitted to the hospital on Feb. 26, 2007, and experienced an alleged allergic reaction, which included itching skin and hallucinations, after doctors injected him with morphine.

During the trial, Burl testified that he advised medical personnel of his allergy to the drug.

However, Jonnie Wilson, a nurse practitioner at the Newton Family Clinic in Jasper, testified that she had been treating Corkran for several years and he never once reported any known drug allergies.

Furthermore, Corkran's medical records at the Newton Family Clinic show that prior to the Feb. 26, 2007, incident he had come in for multiple visits since 2003 and there were no records indicating he reported a morphine allergy.

Wilson also testified that a real allergy to morphine would be much more severe than itchy skin.

But Corkran and his attorney claimed the morphine shot induced a state of drug psychosis.

Jurors disagreed, and declined to award Corkran any damages for his alleged mental anguish.

Christus is represented by Houston attorney Erin Lunceford of the Sprott, Rigby, Newsom, Robbins & Lunceford law firm.

Corkran and his wife were represented in part by Beaumont attorney Paul Fergusen Jr.

Judge Milton Shuffield, 136th District Court, presided over the trial.

Case No. D182-689

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