Pharmacy, Nursing Home Sued After Pharmacy Misfill Leads to Resident’s Death

In recent news that our Washington D.C. pharmacy error attorneys have been following, a nursing home was fined $12,000 last month, after a pharmacy misfill caused a nursing home resident to receive the incorrect medication for 18 days, leading to her wrongful death.

The Auburn Citizen reports that according to an investigation by the New York State Health Department in March and April of 2009, Geraldine Burke, a 94-year-old resident, was given tablets of a blood pressure medicine and diuretic by three different nurses in the Cayuga County Nursing Home, instead of the thyroid medication she had been prescribed.

The tragic medication error reportedly happened as a result of a pharmacy misfill, where a technician at HealthDirect, a separate division of Kinney Drugs that provides pharmacy services for more than 100 facilities, had filled and shipped the wrong medication for Burke. The two medications reportedly had similar looking names—methimazole and metolazone—a common medication mistake that plagues pharmacies in this country, as our lawyers have reported in a recent blog.

Neither the pharmacy or the nursing home recognized the mistake, and Burke was given 11 doses of Metolazone, the diuretic. The autopsy reportedly found that Burke died from heart issues, that were a result of kidney failure, worsened by the diuretic, along with other conditions. When the facility discovered the medication error after her death, they reported it to the Health Department, where they were fined $12,000. Burke’s family sued Cayuga County for negligence, and in turn Cayuga sued HealthDirect for their pharmacy misfill.

After Burke’s death, HealthDirect and other operating divisions at Kinney Drugs upgraded their pharmacy systems to avoid a pharmacy misfill from happening in the future. Prescriptions are now bar-coded so they can be scanned when filled and then rescanned before being administered at nursing homes, to avoid medication error that can lead to injury or wrongful death.

Lebowitz and Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers

represent victims of pharmacy misfill in the Washington, D.C. area. Contact our attorneys today at 1-800-654-1949 to schedule a free consultation.
Kinney Division Sued Over Drug Mix-up, Watertown Daily Times, December 19, 2010
Nursing Home Fined After Resident Gets Wrong Med and Dies,, December 17, 2010

Related Web Resources:

Institute of Medicine (IOM)

U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Medication Error Reports
Institute for Safe Medication Practices, (ISMP)

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