Pharmacy Settles Opioid Death Suit for $325,000

February 22, 2018

An independent pharmacy opted to settle a wrongful death lawsuit involving an opioid prescription.

An independent pharmacy opted to settle a wrongful death lawsuit involving an opioid prescription instead of battling the case in court.

The case against Miller Pharmacy in Mukwonago, WI was settled for $325,000 and was dismissed before going to trial.

The lawsuit stems from an incident in June, 2014, when the pharmacy accidentally doubled the amount of methadone when filling the prescription for Barbara Hall. The 67-year-old woman died four days later.

"She was on most of those medications for years and years and years," said her husband Gary during a court hearing last year, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. "She was on methadone 5 (mg) for what, a year-and-a-half, something like that, and all of a sudden it goes from 5 to 10 (mg) and she is dead in four days."

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Stephen Herbst, a pharmacist who now owns Miller Pharmacy, mistakenly filled the methadone script at 10 mg after a pharmacy tech typed 10 mg, rather than 5 mg, into the computer system.  Herbst "failed to note the discrepancy in dosage between the prescription presented and the electronically entered file,” says the state’s Pharmacy Examining Board reprimand against Herbst, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Miller Pharmacy notified Barbara Hall’s doctor about the error, when it was discovered around two weeks after she died."Mr. Herbst was very honorable in owning up to the mistake,” Michael Russart, an attorney for Herbst, tells the newspaper.

The Board ordered Herbst to pay $500 to cover the cost of the state proceedings and complete eight hours of education about controlled substances. “A lousy 500 bucks. You could run over the neighbor's dog and be fined more than that,” Hall says.

However, no clear line exists between the pharmacy’s error and Hall's death, according to the pharmacy's insurer and Russart. Hall was taking a half-dozen painkillers and antidepressants and the Walworth County coroner's office ruled the death was the result of "multiple medical intoxication," Russart says.