Eric Cropp was the supervising pharmacist at Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital in Cleveland in February 2006 when one of the technicians dispensed a fatal solution to patient Emily Jerry. It was to be her final treatment in her battle with cancer, for which she had been given an excellent prognosis.
In January 2009, then-governor Ted Strickland signed "Emily's Law", which aims to reduce prescription and medication errors through more stringent employment requirements and a compulsory certification test for pharmacy technicians.
A jury found Cropp guilty of involuntary manslaughter due to his failure to supervise the technician and catch the fatal error. After serving his sentence in prison and under house arrest, Cropp is joining Emily's father in his efforts to prevent medication errors. They hope to educate pharmacy professionals about Emily's Law and encourage pharmacists to slow down, think about each individual patient, and not allow the ever-increasing retail aspect of working in a pharmacy to interfere with patient care.
Medication Error Deaths Too Common
Emily's death was tragic, but unfortunately, deaths from medication errors are commonplace. About 100,000 deaths occur each year in the U.S. due to medication errors. Medication errors injure 1.5 million. These injuries and deaths could be prevented, however, by increased diligence of the pharmacist, technicians and prescribing physicians.
One particular medication, the "blood-thinner" Coumadin, also known as Warfarin,has proved to be especially deadly when overprescribed. A Coumadin overdose can increase a patient's chances of internal bleeding, hemorrhagic stroke or death. Doctors are aware - or should be aware - of the potentially severe complications of Coumadin, and should incorporate a strictly monitored regime when prescribing the drug.
Fixing the Deadly Problem
First, pharmacists should double check medication names if something seems out of sorts. Often, the chain of communication a prescription goes through is like a game of telephone, and a spelling error or illegible handwriting at any point in the system can result in a medication error.
This type of confusion accounts for almost a quarter of all pharmacy errors. For example, it is easy to confuse the names of Adderall, an ADHD medication, with Inderal, a high blood pressure medication. If someone misspells or mishears the initial prescription, it would be easy to confuse these drugs.
Second, pharmacists should explain the side effects of all drugs a patient is taking to make sure that the drugs will not magnify each other's side effects. Likewise, it is important for patients to share all the medications they are taking so doctors and pharmacists will not prescribe or fill dangerous combinations of drugs.
Pharmacists should take time to slow down to properly supervise technicians and focus on individual patients' needs. Legislation like Emily's Law helps protect patients from medication errors and insures pharmacists will have qualified help. When hand in hand, modified behavior and stronger laws will help reduce medication errors.
If you or a loved one has been harmed or killed by a medication error, contact an experienced Ohio prescription error lawyer to see what your legal options are. A reputable attorney can conduct a detailed investigation and help you assemble a strong case to hold the responsible parties accountable.