Earlier this month in Auburn University’s Harrison School of Pharmacy, students and professors put on a mock trial, mimicking a real criminal law trial that alleged criminal negligence on the part of a pharmacist who signed off on an improperly diluted medication that was given to a young child. According to an article by Pharmacy Times, the mock trial is used by administrators to impart the real-world consequences that can result from a pharmacist’s mistake.
The original case arose back in 2006, when a two-year-old girl died as a result of being provided her final chemotherapy session that was improperly diluted. Apparently, rather than having less than 1% salt, the solution contained 23% salt, which ended up being a toxic dose for the two-year-old child. While it was not a pharmacist who prepared the solution, the pharmacist on duty did check the work of the technician who did prepare the solution.
After the error, the girl’s father learned that there were several other problems that contributed to the fatal pharmacy error, including the fact that the pharmacy’s computers were down that day, the pharmacy was understaffed, and there was a backlog of physician orders waiting to be filled. In the real case, the pharmacist was found to be criminally negligent because she inspected and checked off on the work of the technician. She lost her license to practice as a result. The students at the Harrison School of Pharmacy came to the same conclusion, finding that under the facts provided, the pharmacist was acting negligently on the day in question.