Lawsuit: N.Y. Patient Mistakenly Got HIV Medication

January 11, 2008

A liver transplant patient has sued New York University Medical Center for $2 million, claiming the hospital’s pharmacy gave him medicine for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, when he tried to fill a prescription for hepatitis C.

Gregory Rossini, 56, says in court papers that taking the wrong medication caused his hepatitis condition to worsen. Besides chills, dizziness, fever and loss of appetite and weight, his eyes and skin turned yellow, the lawsuit says.

Rossini, who got his transplanted liver in 1996, said an employee in the NYU Medical Center pharmacy made the error on Jan. 18, 2005, when the patient asked for a medication called Rebetol for hepatitis C. The unidentified pharmacist instead gave him Reyataz, an HIV medication, court papers say.

A spokeswoman from the NYU Medical Center said Wednesday she couldn’t comment on pending litigation.

Rossini’s court papers, filed in Manhattan’s state Supreme Court, say he noticed that the pills he received were different from those he usually got but he did not challenge the pharmacist.

The lawsuit says Rossini received a letter two months later dated March 8, 2005, and signed by Dr. Max M. Cohen, admitting that the patient had been given medication from a mislabeled bottle.
Cohen’s letter, appended to the lawsuit as an exhibit, said a “robotic malfunction” resulted in the pharmacists having to dispense medications manually.

Rossini’s lawyer, William Bird, said Wednesday he was unsure what Cohen meant by “robotic malfunction.”

Bird said Rossini, married and a retired former employee of the medical center, worked in the facility’s real estate department.

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