By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On December 5, 2016, a Nebraska magistrate judge signed off on an agreement resolving a widower’s wrongful death suit. The medical negligence suit contends that Safeway pharmacists negligently dispensed methadone and another medication to the plaintiff’s now-dead wife even though using the drugs together is risky, ultimately leading to her death.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas D. Thalken, granted a stipulation of dismissal in Brian Crawford’s litigation alleging that Safeway is liable for his wife’s death. Crawford alleges that Safeway is responsible for his late wife’s death because its pharmacists gave her both methadone and fluconazole, despite the fact that the medications are contraindicated for simultaneous use. Click here to read the order in full.
Brian Crawford, who originally filed suit in April 2014, alleged in an amended complaint later that year that Safeway “breached its duty to decedent Hilary Crawford by failing to provide reference material appropriate for the efficient and safe practice of pharmacy for use by its registered pharmacists which would alert the dispensing pharmacist of the adverse drug-drug interaction of methadone and fluconazole prior to the point of dispensing and delivering to decedent Hilary Crawford.”
To read the amended complaint, click here.
Crawford alleges that the failure to provide its pharmacists with those materials led to a number of missteps that contributed to her death in April 2012. For example, the pharmacists failed multiple times to provide Hilary Crawford with counseling and information about the increase in methadone when she was starting larger doses. Also, she was twice given another prescription for the drug before the prior one had run out, the complaint alleged.
The pharmacists also allegedly made several errors surrounding the dispensing of fluconazole to treat a yeast infection she contracted, according to the complaint.
The Other Side of the Story.
In its defense, Safeway moved to exclude the testimony of Brian Crawford’s toxicology expert, Henry Nipper, contending that his opinion lacked reliability. The company then followed up with a summary judgment bid in September, saying that without Nipper’s testimony, Brian Crawford wouldn’t be able to prove causation.
“There is not admissible evidence against Safeway that the combination of fluconazole and methadone taken by the plaintiff’s decedent caused her death. Rather, the overwhelming evidence is that the plaintiff’s decedent took twice as much methadone as she was instructed to by the pharmacy and by her physician. She exhibited signs of overdose in the several days prior to her death,” Safeway said. “Unfortunately, the signs and symptoms were not appreciated by her family and friends.”
However, Judge Thalken denied the motions in late September 2016, and the parties reached a settlement in October 2016, according to court filings.
To learn more about medical negligence suits, click here to read one of my prior blogs.
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“Safeway Settles Medical Negligence Suit Over Woman’s Death.” Lexis Nexis. (December 5, 2016). Web.
Posses, Shayna. “Safeway Settles Medical Negligence Suit Over Woman’s Death.” Law360. (December 5, 2016). Web.
About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.
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