A man named Terry Paul Smith voiced complaints to his physician about a drug he had been taking for leg and back pain. His physician then changed his prescription to a narcotic pain reliever called methadone. After filling the prescription at a Walgreens pharmacy in Jacksonville, Florida, and taking the drug, he died within 36 hours.
It is alleged that a small but disastrous error on the pill bottle caused Smith’s death. This case marks the fourth trial regarding a pharmacy error that resulted in a fatality since September 2006 for Walgreens, the country’s largest drug store chain in terms of sales and profits. In the three prior trials, which occurred in Illinois, Arizona and Florida, jurors reached verdicts in excess of $61 million against Walgreens, which is based in Illinois.
Walgreens has disputed the three verdicts and has made a motion to dismiss the court complaint filed by lawyers for Smith’s family. Nevertheless, the cases could adversely affect the image for Walgreens, which describes itself as “The Pharmacy America Trusts.” According to the complaint, Walgreens neglected to create a system that was likely to serve as a preventive measure against prescription errors.
In the September 2006 case in Cook County, Illinois, the jury rendered a judgment of $31 million against Walgreens for the death of 79-year-old Leonard Kulisek. A Walgreens pharmacist gave Kulisek the wrong drug instead of his gout medication. The pharmacist gave him Glipizide, a drug used to treat diabetes, which caused his kidneys to deteriorate and compelled him to have regular dialysis, causing his health to undergo a fatal decline. The pharmacist subsequently admitted that he had been abusing prescription painkillers.
Although it has been reported that pharmacy errors do not occur very frequently, the fact that they occur at all and can result in death, is very alarming. Such errors may prompt some people to check their prescriptions after picking them up to ensure that they are receiving the correct medication.
Paul Greenberg is a Chicago medical malpractice lawyer with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit http://www.briskmanandbriskman.com/.