An error by an institutional pharmacy, HealthDirect, is responsible for the death of a 94-year old patient at a New York nursing home. According to New York Health Department reports, the woman was to receive methimazole, to treat her thyroid condition, but pharmacists at HealthDirect filled the prescription with metolazone– a significantly different medication used to treat blood pressure.
In addition to the error my by the pharmacy, additional errors were made by Cayuga County Nursing Home when they administered the wrong medication to the woman over the course of 18 days. Shortly after the woman received the incorrect drugs, she died due heart problems brought about by kidney failure.
Following the woman’s death, her family initiated a lawsuit against the nursing home due to the errors they made with respect to administering the wrong medication. In the course of the lawsuit, it only was then discovered that the pharmacy errors were also likely to have contributed to her death.
Changes Following A Lawsuit
As a nursing home lawyer, many families repeatedly tell me how important it is for them to see that the offending facility implement necessary changes to prevent similar incidents from occurring to others. While this may seem like somewhat of an idealistic approach, facilities may be quick to implement necessary changes following a claim or lawsuit brought against them by an injured party.
If for no other reason than just plain bad business, I have seen staffing and safety changes implemented at nursing homes shortly after a lawsuit was filed against them.
In this case, the pharmacy– HealthDirect, a division of Kinney Drugs, has quickly implemented changes such as: tablet identification, bar-coding prescriptions and using a diagnosis on prescriptions so pharmacists have an indication of the drugs usage.
Kinney division sued over drug mix-up, Watertown Daily Times by Martha Ellen, December 19, 2010.