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Florida Appeals Court Orders Walgreens to Pay $25.8 Million for Prescription Error

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Beth Hippley of Lakeland, Florida died in 2007 after receiving a prescription ten times more potent than the correct amount. Hippley, already undergoing treatment for early stage breast cancer, suffered a massive stroke after a teenage pharmacy technician made the error with Hippley’s blood thinner pills. She was forced to stop the breast cancer treatment because of the devastating effects of the stroke and died before her case against the Walgreen’s pharmacy where the error occurred could go to trial. When Hippley was first diagnosed with breast cancer, doctors said she had a 90% chance of survival.

The trial resulted in one of the largest judgments ever but Walgreens appealed the decision. Nevertheless, late last month the Florida appeals court upheld the $25.8 million judgment without comment. The lawyer for the Hippley family, Karen Terry, said, “justice has finally been served after eight years in which Walgreens has dragged out this litigation.”

The case highlighted the dangerous practice in many states where many major drug store chains do not require their pharmacy technicians to have a high school diploma to work. In court testimony, the technician, Janelle Banks, admitted that she typed in “ten milligrams” instead of the correct one-milligram for Hippley’s prescription. Currently, there is no national standard for the training of pharmacy technicians, although they are still required to be closely supervised by their supervisors.