February 22, 2012

Misfiled Prescriptions at Walgreens Leads to Wrongful Death Lawsuit

by Levin & Perconti

A new article in the Courtier-Journal discussed a unique lawsuit filed against the mega-chain Walgreens for a botched prescription. Each Chicago medical malpractice lawyer at our firm knows that medication errors are some of the most dangerous mistakes that healthcare professionals can make. Serious injury and even death can result when medication errors are made. The risks are actually highest for those who are most vulnerable health-wise—infants and the elderly. However, everyone can face problems if the wrong medication or too much medication is taken.

This latest wrongful death lawsuit was filed by one elderly woman’s estate which claims that she died as a result of getting the wrong prescription at Walgreens. The suit was filed last week alleging that the victim went to get high blood pressure medication. However, Walgreens officials did not give her the medication. Instead, she received an antihistamine—Hydroxyzine. The woman had a history of health problems, including congestive heart failure and kidney failure in addition to the high blood pressure.

Hydroxyzine, which the woman was mistakenly given, is actually a high-risk medication for seniors. It has previously been documented to cause confusion and oversedation. Besides giving the woman the wrong medication, the lawsuit states that the pharmacy staff did not conduct basic counseling regarding the medication. Had that counseling been given at the time of the pick-up the pharmacist would have caught the error.

The senior took the wrong medication for two weeks before the problem was noticed. During the time her hypertension went untreated. Shortly after the mistake was caught the woman became ill. She died after a short hospitalization.

The lawsuit names those working at the time of the mistake as well as the national Walgreens Corporation which is responsible for the conduct of employees on duty. As in similar cases, the family is seeking accountability for the egregious mistake. It is vital that information be uncovered to figure out exactly how such an error could have gone unnoticed for so long.

All drugs present risks. Having a foreign substance put into the body must be done delicately at all times. This is particularly true of prescription drugs or medicine administered at hospitals. Many of these substances are restricted from open use specifically because of the dangers they present when used incorrectly. There is simply no room for error with these medications. Systems have to be in place which catches these lapses. Even a single mistake, as this case demonstrates, can lead to death. That is why our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers urge all local residents to pay close attention to all medication that they take—even when given by qualified professionals. Mistakes happen, and vigilance is required to catch those mistakes before they cause harm.

However, if you or a loved one has actually been harmed because of a medication error—either at a hospital, via prescription, or some other situation—you must remember that you have legal rights. Be sure to contact a medical malpractice lawyer whenever you are in this situation to learn how the law applies in your case and what can be done to ensure that similar mistakes are not made in the future.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Medication Errors Requires Millions to Receive Additional Care

Improving Healthcare Requires Identifying the Most Common Medication Errors