Pharmacy Allegedly Dispenses Adult’s Prescription to Child with the Same Name, Resulting in Near-Fatal Drug Reaction

The family of a five-year old boy in the Chicago area is claiming that a case of mistaken identity resulted in the boy receiving the wrong medication and suffering a near-fatal reaction with possible long-term health effects. They have filed a negligence lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court seeking $50,000 in damages. Pharmacies and the medical professionals they employ owe a duty of care to consumers to verify not only the type and dosage of medication dispensed, but also that the correct patient receives the correct medication.

The child reportedly had a routine checkup with a physician in January 2012. The doctor discussed allergy medication with the boy’s parents, but did not write a prescription at that time. A Walgreens pharmacy allegedly called the family two days later to tell them that their prescription was ready. Believing it to be the allergy medication they had discussed with the doctor, the boy’s mother picked the prescription up and began giving it to him according to the instructions on the bottle.

The lawsuit, filed in January 2014, states that the boy slept for almost two full days after taking the medication. When the child woke up, he exhibited unusual symptoms. His neck flared, leading his parents to call 9-1-1, but it soon subsided. The boy later fainted, so his parents took him to the doctor, who told them to go immediately to the hospital. The prescription that they thought was for allergies, they learned, was actually haloperidol, an antipsychotic medication intended for an adult with the same name as the child.

Haloperidol, also known by its brand name Haldol, is used to treat various psychotic conditions like schizophrenia, as well as symptoms associated with Tourette’s syndrome. The dosage dispensed by the pharmacy was the appropriate amount for an adult, not a five-year-old child. This drug and other antipsychotic medications have been linked to various adverse side effects, particularly a condition known as tardive dyskinesia that involves loss of motor control over parts of the body.

Numerous lawsuits have sought to hold manufacturers of these drugs liable for their harmful effects, and courts have acknowledged that tardive dyskinesia is a possible side effect. See Washington v. Harper, 494 U.S. 210, 230 (1990); Rennie v. Klein, 653 F.2d 836, 843 (3rd Cir. 1981). The specific drug is not the primary issue in the current lawsuit, but rather the pharmacy’s alleged negligence in failing to confirm that the medication was going to the correct patient. The fact that the medication in question has known health risks is not an essential element of the plaintiffs’ case, but it probably does not hurt to include it in the complaint.

The bigger concern for the plaintiffs might be whether they share any fault for administering the medication to the child without checking the prescription. Most states, including Illinois, follow some form of the comparative negligence doctrine, which reduces an award of damages by the percentage of fault apportioned to a plaintiff by a judge or jury. Maryland, however, is one of the few states that still uses contributory negligence, which prevents a plaintiff from any recovery at all if they were even one percent at fault for the injury.

The pharmacy error attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen can assist Maryland individuals who have been injured by drugs prescribed, dispensed, or administered incorrectly. To schedule a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case, contact us today online or at (800) 654-1949.

More Blog Posts:

Hospital Allegedly Gives Infant Incorrect Dosage of Medication for Meningitis Treatment, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, February 6, 2014
Lawsuit Over 4 Year Old Girl Given Five Times Correct Dose of Medication, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, October 21, 2013
Mother Sues Pharmacy over 6 Year Old Daughter’s Death in 10x Correct Dosage Case, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, August 22, 2013
Photo credit: By ZngZng (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

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