The Federal District Court in Northern Ohio recently decided an employment law case that highlights the potential for frequent hospital pharmacy errors committed by inexperienced hospital pharmacists. In Colvin v. Veterans Administration Medical Center, the Federal District Court decided that a hospital properly dismissed an inexperienced hospital pharmacist for his repeated errors while dispensing medication to hospital patients.
In a lawsuit against Ohio’s Veterans Administration Medical Center (“VAMC”), Deon Colvin (“Colvin”) claimed that the hospital breached the parties’ contract when it fired Colvin in May, 2003. Colvin began working at the VAMC in June 2002, and after a seven week orientation period, began working in the hospital pharmacy on the midnight shift, where Colvin was the only pharmacist on duty.
In his complaint, Colvin stated that he was “ill prepared to work the night shift by himself because he had little experience working in a hospital environment where many of the practices, procedures and medicines were different from that which he was used to dispensing at a pharmacy in a retail environment.” During his first few weeks on the midnight shift, Colvin made three signification errors: first, he dispensed ten boxes of syringes of injectable morphine, where the physician’s order called for only ten syringes; second, he dispensed an insulin prescription without including important special instructions; and third, Colvin failed to find and correct a doctor’s error in an order for the blood-thinner, heparin
The Veterans Administration Hospital fired Colvin as a result of these medication errors, and Colvin subsequently filed suit in federal court. The Federal Court agreed with VAMC that Colvin’s errors constituted serious mistakes that justified his termination. The Court granted summary judgment in favor of VAMC, and it threw out Colvin’s lawsuit against the hospital.
While it is clear that the hospital needed to protect its patients by firing the negligent pharmacist, the Maryland medication error attorneys believe that the Veterans Administration Hospital was also negligent in hiring and placing an inexperienced hospital pharmacist alone in the pharmacy without the support and supervision of more senior pharmacists.
The lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC would be pleased to speak to you if you believe that you have been the victim of a pharmacy error that occurred at a hospital.