An Ohio father whose 2-year-old daughter’s 2006 death spurred the passage of “Emily’s Law” is preparing to publicly forgive the pharmacist who went to prison for a medical error that led to the death.
Chris Jerry, who has since started the Emily Jerry Foundation to raise awareness of medication errors, said he plans to forgive Eric Cropp in an interview next week for a segment on the Discovery Channel about patient safety.
“The criminalization of medical errors is an enormous setback for the patient-safety movement,” Jerry said.
“When these tragedies occur, instead of pointing fingers, we need to focus on what actually caused the event and what we can do to minimize this from happening in the future,” he continued. “Eric should never have gone to prison.”
Cropp, a former pharmacist at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, was convicted in August 2009 of involuntary manslaughter for approving in 2006 a pharmacy technician’s fatal saline solution for 2-year-old Emily, who was on her final phase of cancer treatment. The technician, Katie Dudash, prepared a chemotherapy mix for Emily that was 23 percent salt-based when it should have been only 1 percent.
The Jerry case sparked reform of pharmacy technician practices along with the prosecution of Cropp, who was stripped of his license in 2007 for his error and 15 subsequent unrelated errors. Ohio legislators in 2009 passed Emily’s Law, which created licensing and minimum education requirements for pharmacy technicians — a change largely cheered by educators and others in the local industry.
Pharmacy trade groups, though, called the prosecution inappropriate and unwarranted. They say cases like Cropp’s could make pharmacists less likely to report errors and slow systemic change, outcomes that are likely to prevent future tragedies.
Jerry seems to agree with that assessment. “Cropp and Dudash are part of the overall tragedy,” he said. “They’re really just victims of an ineffective patient-safety system.”
The problem with criminalizing medical errors, according to Jerry, is that, “People will be less likely to step up and say ‘I made the mistake’ in fear of criminal prosecution and being persecuted by the public.”
Among the foundation’s largest focuses is the passage of a federal equivalent of Emily’s Law. Jerry is looking for a member of Congress who’d be interested in sponsoring the legislation.
Additionally, the foundation is looking to bring attention to “partner” companies that sell technology that holds the potential to reduce medication errors. Those companies include chemical-detection firm CDEX and intravenous drug-delivery firm S.E.A. Medical Systems.
Eventually, Jerry hopes the foundation can sponsor clinical trials of patient-safety technology to help safety products reach the market faster. He envisions an “Emily Jerry Foundation Seal of Approval,” much like the well-known Good Housekeeping Seal.
Jerry’s interview in which he’ll forgive Cropp is for “Chasing Zero,” a Discovery Channel program on patient safety hosted by actor Dennis Quaid. The interview is scheduled for next week, but it’s unclear when the program will air.
Here’s an interview with Chris Jerry: