Pharmacist’s Error That Caused a Man to Take a Massive Blood Thinner Overdose Leads to $200,000 Settlement | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

What Happened

Our Virginia medical malpractice client suffered life-threatening bleeding when a pharmacy dispensed a massive overdose of a clot-busting drug. The medication error hospitalized him numerous times.

When the 61-year-old man who was in otherwise generally good health experienced sudden and painful swelling in his left ankle, he visited a vascular surgeon and was diagnosed with a deep-vein thrombosis. The surgeon prescribed 10 mg of Coumadin (warfarin) per day to break up the clot that was blocking the flow of blood through his lower leg.

The pharmacist who our Virginia medical malpractice client asked to fill his prescription order instructed the man to take 25 mg of the powerful blood thinner daily. Two days later, the man started bleeding profusely out of his rectum. Three hospital stays and surgical repairs were needed to stop the hemorrhaging.


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Key Legal Strategy

Our Virginia medical malpractice attorney hired a pharmacologist who specializes in medication poisoning to prepare a report on the effects of a Coumadin overdose. The defendant pharmacist’s malpractice insurer could not refute the facts presented by the expert.

Also, the preserved prescription order clearly stated “10 mg,” so the fact that the pharmacist mistakenly instructed the man to self-administer an overdose of 2,5 times the prescribed amount could not be argued.

The insurance company agreed to enter into mediation rather than fight the medical malpractice claim in court. That alternative dispute resolution process, throughout which our malpractice client and his wife proved themselves to be excellent witnesses, resulted in a $200,000 settlement.

Pharmacy errors are almost always preventable. Numerous mandatory and customary safety checks should protect patients from receiving the wrong drugs, wrong doses and wrong instructions. When the system breaks down due to a health care provider’s negligence, our Virginia medical malpractice attorneys stand ready to hold the responsible parties accountable for the harm they inflict.

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

Staff: Staff attorney