Medical Risk Law Weekly News

Week of: July 16, 2012


Romaine Lettuce Recalled Due to Possible Salmonella Contamination

Nineteen cases of bulk romaine lettuce sold at Vons and Pavilions stores in California and Nevada are being voluntarily recalled by Pacific International Marketing (“Pacific”) due to potential Salmonella contamination. The romaine lettuce was sold in bulk produce bins from July 2, 2012 through July 4, 2012. The lettuce heads are banded with a red twist tie marked “Safeway.”


Methadone Linked to 30 Percent of Prescription Painkiller Overdose Deaths

The prescription drug methadone accounted for two percent of painkiller prescriptions in the United States in 2009, but was involved in more than 30 percent of prescription painkiller overdose deaths, according to a CDC Vital Signs report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Sterilization Process Monitoring Device Recalled After FDA Shortens Expiration Date; Potential Risk of Infection

Advanced Sterilization Products (ASP) has issued a voluntary recall of certain lots of Sterrad Cyclesure 24 Biological Indicators due to the revised expiration time (shelf life) from 15 months to 6 months. This recall followed an FDA review of ASP data, which showed that certain lots of Sterrad Cyclesure 24 Biological Indicators cannot effectively monitor the sterilization process throughout a 15-month shelf life. After reviewing additional ASP data, the FDA believes that the product may be used with a 6-month shelf life.

FDA Introduces New Safety Measures for Extended-Release and Long-Acting Opioid Medications

The FDA approved a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy (REMS) for extended-release (ER) and long-acting (LA) opioids, highly potent drugs approved for moderate to severe, persistent pain that requires treatment for an extended period.


Lay Testimony about Notations in Pharmacy’s Delivery Log Found Not Speculative and Admissible

The plaintiff suffered complications from LASIK surgery to correct her vision. Her ophthalmologist performed a second surgery to address the complications. During that surgery the doctor applied what he thought was a prescription drug known as mitomycin-C (MMC) to help treat her blurry vision and prevent scarring. The bottle containing what was supposed to be MMC was provided by the defendant pharmacy. The plaintiff suffered additional complications from the second surgery which, according to another ophthalmologist, were caused by failure to apply MMC during the second surgery. The first ophthalmologist submitted the bottle provided by the defendant pharmacy for testing where it was discovered that it did not contain MMC. The plaintiff sued the defendant pharmacy for malpractice for failing to deliver the correct medication prescribed by the surgeon for application to the patient's eyes during surgery.

Expert Testimony Required To Show Causation in Wrongful Death Action For Failure To Commit Suicidal Patient

A man expressed suicidal thoughts during a conflict with his family, resulting in the man being transported to the defendant hospital’s emergency room. The defendant treating physician assessed him and, at the man’s request, discharged him. Thirty-six hours after he was discharged from the defendant’s emergency room, the man committed suicide.  The man’s family brought a wrongful death action against the doctor and, under respondeat superior, the hospital.

Mental Healthcare Employee’s Claims for Failure To Provide Safety Protocols and Equipment Are Health Care Liability Claims

A man was admitted to the defendant mental health hospital and placed on on-to-one observation and restricted to his unit due to his history of violent outbursts. Cross-plaintiff, a psychiatric technician and professional caregiver at the hospital, was supervising him when the patient became agitated. The caregiver took the patient to an outdoor enclosed smoking area, a place the caregiver had taken the patient before without incident, in an attempt to calm him. The smoking area contained no surveillance equipment and the door locked behind them. The two men engaged in a physical altercation. The patient died and the cross-plaintiff suffered injuries. The estate of the patient sued the hospital and the caregiver.