Walter Colbath III, the brother and son of longtime Palm Beach County judges, died as a result of medical negligence, his widow said in a lawsuit filed last month in circuit court.
Had Good Samaritan Medical Center and oncologist Dr. James Harris properly treated and monitored Colbath, the 60-year-old Jupiter native wouldn’t have suffocated to death in August 2017, said attorney Stephan LeClainche, who is representing Kristin Colbath in the wrongful death lawsuit.
“He was overmedicated. That’s what caused his death,” LeClainche said on Tuesday. After giving Colbath high-powered narcotics for throat pain associated with radiation he was receiving for cancer treatment, hospital officials left him alone without any monitoring, he said.
“It was a recipe for disaster,” LeClainche.
Ironically, Colbath’s death came when he was supposed to be celebrating his last round of chemotherapy for squamous cell cancer on the base of his tongue, LeClainche said. When he arrived at Harris’ office for his final treatment, the doctor recommended Colbath be admitted to the West Palm Beach hospital for dehydration and to alleviate his throat pain.
Colbath’s cancer prognosis was good, LeClainche said. Roughly 80 to 85 percent of those with the same type of cancer survive. “He was expected to fully recover,” he said.
Instead, LeClainche said because the hospital and Harris gave him narcotics, including a fentanyl patch, and left him alone, he died, leaving behind a wife and three sons. Since two of the sons are over the age of 25, under Florida law they can’t join their mother in the lawsuit. The couple’s youngest son, 23-year-old Jason Colbath, can recover damages. LeClainche said he didn’t know how much he would be seeking.
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