shocking prescription error results in fatal morphine overdose

It’s something that has happened to virtually everyone at some point in their lives: making a mistake while on the clock due to fatigue, complacence, inattention or some combination of the three. For most people in most professions, a missed meeting, wrong keystroke or late report results in nothing more than inconvenience and perhaps a bit of embarrassment. However, there are some professions — particularly those in the medical field — in which people simply cannot afford to make these kinds of mistakes as lives are on the line.

To illustrate, consider a recent tragedy in the southern United States, where a mother filed a lawsuit against a pharmacy after an otherwise unbelievable medication error took the life of her six-year-old daughter.

According to the lawsuit, the mother traveled to an area pharmacy in March 2012 to fill a morphine prescription for her young daughter, who suffered from sickle cell anemia and had been taking the potent drug on and off since the age of one to help manage her condition.

The lawsuit, which is seeking a million dollars in damages, goes on to state that the daughter’s treating physician prescribed her a 15-milligram dose, but the pharmacy dispensed a dose that was at least 10 times stronger. Sadly, she died six days after taking the incorrect dosage and the county coroner later classified the cause of her death as an accidental morphine overdose.

“They gave me the medicine to help her with her pain, and it ended up killing her,” said the aggrieved mother.

As if all of this weren’t shocking enough, the attorneys representing the mother have indicated that settlement negotiations with the pharmacy have broken down over its unwillingness to apologize for the incident.

“I do want an apology. I lost my child,” said the mother. “Why wouldn’t you call me?”

With the number of people on a pharmacy staff and the verification procedures they typically have in place, prescription errors like this should simply never happen. When they do and a patient suffers unnecessarily, someone must be held accountable.

KTRK-TV, “Lawsuit claims wrong pharmacy prescription led to six-year-old girl’s overdose death,” Jessica Willey, August 21, 2013

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