WCPO-TV in Cleveland, Ohio, reports on what can only be described as a sad case for everyone.
Eric Cropp, a pharmacist at the time of the incident, gave an overdose of saline to a two-year-old cancer patient, resulting in her death. His sentence: six months in jail, six months house arrest, and three years probation including 400 hours of community service. (The article does not mention a fine.)
It’s sad for the family, who saw their young daughter almost make it through cancer treatments, only to perish in a truly unbecoming fashion.
And it’s sad for Cropp, who is not only facing a forced career change after losing his license, but now has to deal with what will now be uncomfortable questions about criminal background when applying for other jobs.
Now, some of you out there will go on about how he only got three years probation, so he got off easy, etc. But the true sentence here is not the three years’ probation and the jail time.
Even if not actually convicted (it does not state whether he has gotten some kind of sentence that is not supposed to result in an actual conviction, such as deferred adjudication like we have in Texas), Cropp is getting what is in effect a life sentence. Even after having completed his probation it is likely that despite anything his lawyer told him, he’ll still have a record. If Ohio’s public records system is anything like the one in Texas, the average person unwilling to actually chase down the details will not even know that the record for Cropp is a “not-a-conviction-that-looks-like-one.”
The really sad part? According to a USA Today story from 2008 February, Cropp isn’t even the one that actually made the fatal mistake of substituting a 23.4% saline solution bag for a 0.9% bag. The error was actually made by Katherine Dudash, the pharmacy technician. But Cropp bears the full brunt of responsibility because he missed the error and because Ohio does not regulate pharmacy technicians.
I don’t excuse the mistakes that Cropp did make, or to say it’s okay for anyone to make the kind of mistake that results in loss of life. But neither do I excuse the unfairness towards Eric Cropp and the completely backwards laws that let Katherine Dudash get off scot free.
The only happy ending to this, is apparently Dudash also now holds a non-pharmacy job (she went back to work at CVS after the incident and changed careers some time later). But she’s not going to have to deal with having to check yes to job applications that ask “have you ever pleaded guilty or no contest to a felony?” or similar questions. That’s unfair and thoughtless towards someone who spent years training to become a pharmacist. That’s what makes me sick.