Blood Thinner Dosing Error Causes Pharmacy to Settle Malpractice Claim for $200,000 | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

What Happened

Our Virginia medical malpractice client was 61 years old and in generally good health when he went to the doctor complaining of a swollen left ankle that he could not connect to an injury. A vascular surgeon diagnosed the swelling as a symptom of a clot in a leg vein and prescribed the blood thinner Coumadin (warfarin) at 10 mg daily.

When our client had his prescription order for the clot-busting drug filled, he received instructions to take 25 mg of Coumadin each day. FDA-mandated labeling for all warfarin-containing medications like Coumadin cautions health care providers and patients that the powerful blood thinner must be dosed and administered precisely to prevent excessive bleeding.

Two days of taking more than twice the prescribed amount of Coumadin caused our client to suffer a massive rectal hemorrhage. In other words, he began to bleed internally so profusely that the blood spilled out of his body through the most convenient opening.

It took three hospital stays to fully stop the life-threatening bleeding triggered by the Coumadin overdose.

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Key Legal Strategy

We retained a highly qualified pharmacology expert who testified on our client’s behalf that Coumadin (warfarin) is a deadly poison when dosed and administered incorrectly. The defense team for the pharmacy and pharmacist could not refute this, so they agreed to go into mediation to determine a fair and just settlement for the man’s injuries.

Our client and his wife acquitted themselves admirably during the mediation and agreed to settle all medical malpractice claims for $200,000.

Pharmacists and pharmacies have high legal duties to ensure that prescription orders are filled correctly, to confirm all dosing instructions with the prescriber and the patient, and to protect patients from potentially deadly adverse event. When health care providers and health care facilities act negligently and fail to meet those duties, our Virginia medical malpractice attorneys work hard to hold them accountable.

Court and Date: U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Norfolk, VA, September 2005

Staff: Staff attorney