September 3, 2014

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Former pharmacist indicted in lethal chemotherapy case

CLEVELAND — A former pharmacist has been indicted on charges of involuntary manslaughter and reckless homicide in the case of a 2-year-old girl who died after receiving an improperly mixed dose of chemotherapy.

Eric Cropp, 39, of Bay Village, failed to catch a mistake in a saline solution that was administered to Emily Jerry of Mentor along with her chemotherapy treatments. The solution, mixed by a pharmacy technician, contained concentrated sodium chloride, a 23.4 percent solution, instead of a saline solution with 1 percent sodium chloride.

“He was charged because of the number of opportunities he had to catch the mistakes that he ignored,” Cuyahoga County assistant prosecutor Paul Soucie said. “There were a number of blinking red lights that he did not pick up on.”

Jerry died March 1, 2006, three days after receiving the lethal dose, and Cropp was fired by Cleveland’s Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital a week later. The Ohio Board of Pharmacy revoked his license in April 2007.

Cropp was indicted on the third-degree felony charges on Thursday. He faces up to five years in prison if convicted.

The pharmacy technician, Katie Dudash, resigned after the girl died, and the Cuyahoga County grand jury did not return an indictment against her. She is expected to testify against Cropp, Soucie said.

At a pharmacy board hearing, Dudash testified she told Cropp something was wrong with the mixture, but he approved the dose anyway.

“We are upset that the pharmacy technician was not indicted as well. But we know the pharmacist is the one that is ultimately culpable,” said Kelly Jerry, the girl’s mother.

The child’s death prompted cries for greater oversight of pharmacy technicians, who are not currently regulated by the state. The girl’s parents are now pushing for legislation requiring pharmacy technicians to be trained, tested and certified by the pharmacy board.

Cropp’s lawyer, Richard Lillie, said the indictment was too severe since most doctors who commit malpractice face civil suits, not criminal charges.