Magazine article Drug Topics

Fatal Vision

Magazine article Drug Topics

Fatal Vision

Article excerpt

Poor penmanship blamed in med error lawsuit

An illegible prescription that allegedly triggered a fatal medication error has landed a physician on the list of defendants in a liability lawsuit in Texas.

A lawsuit has been filed against a cardiologist, a pharmacist, and a chain pharmacy in Odessa, Texas, on behalf of the widow and three children of a man who died following the medication error. The suit alleges, in effect, that the cardiologist who wrote an illegible prescription handed the pharmacist a loaded gun. The pharmacist then pulled the trigger by failing to contact the prescriber for clarification and by failing to catch an excessive dosage.

"The suit includes the physician because I wanted the jury to have everyone before them to be able to assess their conduct," said Kent Buckingham, the plaintiffs' attorney, Trenchard & Buckingham, Kermit, Texas. "If I didn't have the physician in there, and the jury thought that this guy set the ball in motion by not writing the prescription properly, then I would be remiss for not having him before the court."

The case began on June 24, 1995, when a man in his 40s was discharged from the hospital by the cardiologist who had been treating him for heart problems, Buckingham said. The physician wrote a prescription for 20 mg, four times per day, of Isordil (isosorbide dinitrate, Wyeth-Ayerst) for angina pectoris. The patient took the Rx to a chain pharmacy in Odessa. The suit alleges that, when presented with the illegible Rx, the pharmacist made no attempt to contact the physician for clarification. …

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