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Former UH pharmacist likely to serve full sentence after early-release appeal denied

A Cuyahoga County judge denied a motion for judicial release from 41-year-old Eric Cropp, a former pharmacist at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital.

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A former University Hospitals pharmacist whose error played a role in the death of a 2-year-old cancer patient looks likely to spend his full six-month sentence behind bars after his appeal for early release was denied.

A Cuyahoga County judge late last month denied a motion for judicial release from 41-year-old Eric Cropp, a former pharmacist at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. Cropp was convicted in August of involuntary manslaughter for approving in 2006 a pharmacy technician’s fatal saline solution for 2-year-old Emily Jerry, who was on her final phase of cancer treatment.

Cropp is expected to be released next spring after serving six months, according to Ryan Miday, a spokesman for the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office. The office’s records don’t indicate exactly when Cropp began serving the sentence, Miday said.

The prosecutor’s office opposed Cropp’s early release, but didn’t file any motions with the court against it, Miday said.

Cropp’s attorney, Richard Lillie of Cleveland law firm Lillie and Holderman, didn’t return a call.

Cropp in April pleaded no contest to the involuntary manslaughter charge. In addition to serving six months in Cuyahoga County Jail, Cropp was sentenced to six months of home detention, three years of probation, 400 hours of community service and a $5,000 fine, as well as court costs. He was also ordered to work with professional organizations to learn from the error.

The case sparked an uproar among pharmacy trade groups, who called the prosecution inappropriate and unwarranted. Industry advocates have said pharmacists shouldn’t be punished criminally for accidents. Instead of punishment, some pharmacy groups have said offering immunity for most mistakes — a model used by the Federal Aviation Administration — would increase reporting and lead to faster, and more lasting, effective change.

The case stems from a February 2006 incident in which Cropp approved a pharmacy technician’s mix of chemotherapy solution for  Emily, who was being treated at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. The mix was 23 percent salt-based when it should have been only 1 percent.

In testimony later, the technician, Katie Dadush, said she told Cropp there was something wrong with the mixture, though he still approved it. Emily died days later. Dadush was granted immunity for testifying against Cropp.

The Jerry case has 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 passed Emily’s Law, which created licensing and minimum education requirements for pharmacy technicians.