Medication Prescribing

Legal Pearls: Physician Faulted for Failing to Monitor Patient’s Medications


  • An older woman tripped on a rug in her house and toppled down her stairs. The patient was diagnosed with a kidney laceration, broken ribs, and fractured vertebra. She was admitted to the hospital and her Coumadin, which she had been taking for years, was stopped by the hospital physician. 

    The patient remained in the hospital for several days. It was decided that she would be transferred to a nursing facility for a few weeks until she was able to return home. Dr F checked in with the facility when she was first moved there and went over the list of medications transferred from the hospital with the facility nurse and pharmacist. The list from the hospital did not include Coumadin, since that had been halted upon her admission, and Dr F failed to notice its absence. 

    Two weeks after her move to the rehabilitation facility, the patient had a major stroke, resulting in her death. 

    Was Dr F Negligent?

    (Discussion on next page)

    Ann W. Latner, JD, is a freelance writer and attorney based in New York. She was formerly the director of periodicals at the American Pharmacists Association and editor of Pharmacy Times.