A Wisconsin lawsuit alleging that the error of a pharmacist who filled a patient’s prescription with double the strength of an opioid that the patient had been taking for a year-and-a-half that led to her death has been settled for $325,000, which is $25,000 less than the $350,000 cap on noneconomic damages in Wisconsin wrongful death claims involving adults.
The elderly woman was supposed to receive 5 mg methadone refills but the pharmacist who refilled her prescription on June 2, 2014 provided her with 10 mg methadone. The prescription was written for the correct dosage but a technician who entered the prescription into the computer made the mistake. The pharmacist who filled the wrong dosage should have caught the discrepancy before filling the higher dosage, according to the Wisconsin wrongful death lawsuit that was settled shortly before trial was scheduled to begin in January 2018. The medication error was not discovered until after the woman had died.
Four days after the wrongful prescription was dispensed, the woman’s daughter found her mother dead in the mother’s home. The pharmacist-owner of the pharmacy where the medication error occurred was reprimanded by the Wisconsin Pharmacy Examining Board that also required the pharmacist to complete eight hours of education regarding controlled substances and to pay the Board $500 to cover the cost of the disciplinary proceedings. The woman’s husband of 48 years was incensed by the amount of the fine, stating “You could run over the neighbor’s dog and be fined more than that.”
The county coroner ruled that the woman’s death resulted from “multiple medical intoxication” in light of the many painkillers and antidepressants that the woman had been prescribed for years and was taking at the time of her death.
The plaintiff’s lawyer stated after the settlement was announced, “It’s a very difficult thing to try to explain to someone that just lost a loved one that $350,000 is the value of your loss, no matter how long you’ve been married. People don’t want to believe it.”
The Wisconsin Pharmacy Examining Board’s Findings Of Facts in this matter stated, in part: “On May 12, 2014, Respondent reviewed a prescription order for methadone presented by a customer and compared it against the data entered into Pharmacy’s electronic filing system by the pharmacy technician. Respondent noted the type of drug, the date the prescription was available to be filled, and the quantity of drug. However, Respondent failed to note the discrepancy in dosage between the prescription presented and the electronically entered file. Respondent filled the methadone prescription with 10mg tablets instead of 5mg tablets.”
If you or a loved one suffered serious harm (or worse) as a result of a medication error in Wisconsin or in another U.S. state, you should promptly seek the legal advice of a medical malpractice attorney in Wisconsin or in your state who may investigate your medication mistake claim for you and represent you in a pharmacy negligence case, if appropriate.
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