Aftermath of the Eric Cropp Sentence: Will the Criminalization of Medication Errors Make Patients Safer in Ohio?

     Although medication errors are not the focus of this blog, I feel it’s important that health care professionals know what is occurring in the state of Ohio, in the aftermath of the Eric Cropp sentencing referenced in this blog’s post Not a Wonderful Life: No George Bailey for Pharmacist Eric Cropp  or his Patient (September 5, 2009).

     According to the September 10, 2009 issue of  The Institute for Safe Medication Practices, Legislation has been introduced in Ohio that would establish criminal penalties for pharmacists, pharmacy interns, and qualified pharmacy technicians who fail to report suspected dispensing errors with a “dangerous drug” to the Board of Pharmacy(  Criminal penalties would include fines of up to $250 and 30 days imprisonment. Three or more convictions within 6 months would result in increased fines and up to 180 days imprisonment. The Board of Pharmacy would also be required to investigate all errors and pursue disciplinary action if warranted”

The article goes on to say

ISMP adamantly encourages reporting of medication hazards to promote learning. But you can’t punish people for not reporting errors and then subject them to punishment if they do report errors…Ohio pharmacy staff are ” damned if they do” and “damned if they don’t” report errors; in either circumstance, they face the very real threat of imprisonment, fines and a criminal record.”

     Will this type of legislation create a safer environment for patients? Will other states follow suit? Will legislation such as this be applied to health care providers who administer medications, such as nursing instructors training students in clinical rounds, or nurse preceptors? (remember, pharmacist Eric Cropp did not mix the hypertonic chemo, a pharmacy technician did)  Will it drive people away from careers in health care professions? 

Read the full article at