A dad embraces the pharmacist responsible for his daughter's death

 

Emily Jerry was just two years old when she died from a medication error made by a hospital pharmacy technician in Cleveland. She had undergone surgeries and four rounds of chemotherapy to treat what doctors said was a highly curable malignant tumor at the base of her spine.

According to her parents, Emily’s previous treatments had been so successful that her last MRI showed that the tumor had miraculously disappeared. This last treatment on her second birthday was just to be sure that there were no traces of cancer left inside of her. Tragically, the technician mixed her final dose of chemotherapy improperly, in a saline solution that was 23 times more concentrated than it should have been.

Emily woke up after her treatment and asked her mom to hold her in her lap. She began to grab her head and moan that it hurt. Spotting her mom’s can of Coke she begged to have a sip. Then, in a matter of seconds, she drank the entire can. The massive amount of saline had already begun to cause her brain to dehydrate. She began crying again about her head hurting and then became limp. Within the hour she was on life support, and the following morning, doctors met with Emily’s parents to break the tragic news that Emily was brain dead. Instead of hosting a planned belated birthday and cancer-free party for Emily in the coming days, their little girl was delivered to the Cuyahoga County Morgue.

Because pharmacist Eric Cropp was the supervising pharmacist on the day this all happened, and was in a position to catch the error but did not, many family members as well as the media came down hard on him publicly. The Ohio Board of Pharmacy and, later, the county prosecutors, agreed that Mr. Cropp was responsible for the toddler’s death because he oversaw the preparation of her chemotherapy. Eric spent six months in the county jail.

The angst and the call for retribution by families left behind in the wake of a fatal medical error is understandable. In fact, many families feel they need someone to blame and to hold accountable for the painEmily-Pink of their horrific loss. But, for Chris Jerry, Emily’s dad, he remarkably took a different path.

Almost from the start, he opposed Mr. Cropp’s jailing, and now he’s even forgiven him. In fact, Chris Jerry and Eric Cropp have been working together, traveling around the country to speak at pharmacy meetings to help create awareness of the vital importance of safety practices. 

Mr. Jerry believes in his heart that the greater good is served by focusing on how hospitals can prevent similar tragedies like this from happening again. As a result of this tragedy, Mr. Jerry has established the Emily Jerry Foundation which advocates for medication safety in our nation’s healthcare system.

Created on June 11, 2012

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