Medicine Mix-Up: Family blames mail-order pharmacy for woman's death

FAYETTEVILLE, North Carolina -- A North Carolina family says a medical mix-up cost their loved one's life.

The family of Bertha Small is suing a mail-order pharmacy, claiming she died after taking the wrong medication was delivered to her.

Bertha Small spent her entire life taking care of her children and grandchildren.

"Everything she could do while here, she did it," said her son Michael Small.

That was until Small says a medical mistake left him to take care of his mother.

"They are responsible to me, they sent the wrong medicine," said Small.

Small's family is suing the mail-order pharmacy, WellDyneRx for the wrongful death of Bertha Small. The suit blames the pharmacy for sending six medications that weren't prescribed to her back in November 2013. The family says Small thought the medications were hers and took them. Moments later, she began hallucinating to the point she believed she could walk again.

"She fell and broke her leg, took her to the hospital and it was downhill after that," Small explained.

Bertha Small died in January of 2014.

"I miss her a lot," her son said.

The lawsuit was filed in 2016. Since then, it's gone from court to court within the state. It even survived a dismissal, Attorneys Willie Gilbert and Marshall Pitts Jr. appealed.

"The case was thrown out because the judge came to the conclusion even though the package was addressed to our client; the medication bottles inside the package were addressed to someone else. So his position was because she did not notice or read the pill bottles inside the package weren't hers. She was contributorily negligent," said Pitts.

As it stands now, the case has been revived. Eyewitness News reached out to WellDyneRx for their response, they referred us to an amended complaint which denied many of the original lawsuit's allegations.

The Small family is asking for $75,000 in damages.

"I would rather have my momma than the money," said Small.

The family's attorney is focused on awareness.

"It's about justice as well as putting the public on notice about these mail-order pharmacies. Because the mail order pharmacy business is not highly regulated. It's a new thing. More and more people are going to it so it's not as structured as it should be. So we hope a case like this will establish some guidelines in that area," said Pitts.

So how can you shop safely when using mail-order or E-Pharmacies? Pharmacist Amy Bowden says to check, then double-check.

"Make sure it has your name on it. Make sure it has your doctor's name on it. What you went to the doctor for," Bowden explained.

The final pre-trial conference is set for Tuesday, December 17.

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