Distasio Law Firm Client Brings A Pharmacy Error Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Walgreens

Distasio law firm clients recently filed a lawsuit against Walgreens alleging an error in filling their mother’s prescription medicine caused or substantially contributed to her death. Suzie Schottelkotte of The Lakeland Ledger recently wrote a detailed article about the case. The lawsuit alleges that Evelyn Smith was prescribed the drug K-Dur 20 mg twice per day. K-Dur is a form of potassium. On December 20, 2009, her son had the prescription filled by a Walgreens in Auburndale Florida. Walgreens filled the prescription with the
wrong medicine. Instead of using K-Dur, Walgreens used Kadian, a form of slow release morphine. The family was not aware that the prescription was misfilled because the bottle said it had K-Dur in it. The family gave their mother Ms. Smith the Kadian for the next 5 days. On December 25, 2009, Christmas Day, she was rushed to the hospital. She eventually died on January 5, 2010.

In the Lakeland ledger article, Walgreens issued the following statement:

“We’re sorry this occurred and our condolences go out to the Smith family. Cases like this are rare and we take them very seriously. We have a multi-step prescription-filling process with numerous safety checks in each step to reduce the chance of human error. We take pharmacy safety very seriously and constantly work to improve quality, accuracy and service.”

Walgreens has issued many similar statements after its pharmacists have made prescription errors in the past. However, a 2004 study by Auburn University Professor Betsy Flynn estimated that at that time American pharmacists were making approximately 56 million
prescription errors per year. You do not need to be a pharmacy mistake lawyer to judge whether that is a rare occurrence.

In fact, in the same Lakeland Ledger article, Schottelkotte refers to a similar case in Polk County which awarded a $33.3 million verdict. In that case, a different Walgreens in Polk County gave a 46 year old cancer patient, Beth Hippely 10 times the prescribed dosage of her cancer medication. This prescription error led to a brain hemorrhage and paralysis, causing Hippely to be hospitalized for a year after the overdose, preventing further treatment of her breast cancer. Ms. Hippely eventually died from complications stemming from the overdose.


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