Pharmacist Fined for Role in 3-Year-Old's Death

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A pharmacist who filled a prescription that led to the death of a Florida boy will pay a $1,000 fine, according to an agreement a state board approved Wednesday.

As part of the agreement the Florida Board of Pharmacy voted to approve, Edna Irizarry must also attend an eight-hour pharmacy course and pay about $2,460 in investigation costs.

Irizarry faced disciplinary action for processing a prescription for 3-year-old Sebastian Ferrero, who died in October 2007.

Ferrero died at a Shands hospital in Gainesville, two days after a routine test was supposed to help doctors determine why the boy's growth was below average.

Instead of receiving the prescribed dose of 5.75 grams of the amino acid arginine, officials said the Shands Medical Outpatient Pharmacy gave him more than 60 grams.

Board members said blame did not lie with Irizarry alone, instead saying a "system breakdown" led to the child's death.

"Nothing can overcome the tragedy of this young child," Irizarry's attorney, Brian Kahan told the board. "But there are always other victims in cases like this. And Ms. Irizarry is also a victim. She lives with this every single day."

Both Irizarry, who has worked as a pharmacist for 28 years, and Kahan declined to comment after the hearing.

"We were interested in there being a full and complete investigation in this case. And not just where it involved the case today but the entire case and the entire group of people that were involved," said attorney Marcia Davis, who represented the Ferrero family.

The boy's parents, who have started a foundation in the hopes of preventing similar accidents, did not attend the hearing. His mother, Luisa Ferrero, recently gave birth and was unable to travel, Davis said.

The Ferreros had asked the board to postpone the hearing until its next scheduled meeting in October, but the board dismissed the request.

"We're extremely disappointed," Davis said. "We felt like we asked the board to do what compassionate people ought to do, and that is allow victims of malpractice to personally appear before the board and testify or discuss the effect of what happened on them."

Hospital workers at Shands administered the arginine, and did not realize the dosing error even when the Ferreros asked them to check their son, who developed a headache and appeared to be in extreme pain. Shands admitted its errors caused Sebastian's death.

Luisa Ferrero and her husband, Horst, received an $850,000 settlement from Shands Healthcare at the University of Florida and now hope to help build a children's hospital in Gainesville.