AUBURN – Auburn University’s incoming pharmacy students will get an introduction to professional responsibility Friday when attorneys and faculty conduct a mock malpractice trial.
The trial, part of the Harrison School of Pharmacy’s Foundations of Pharmacy orientation course, will involve arguments and deliberations in a fictional $375 million civil suit against a pharmacist. It will be presented at 1:30 p.m. in the Walker Building’s tiered auditorium for 150 first-year students, including 24 from the Mobile campus.
“All the participants in a typical malpractice case will be represented,” said Robert E. Smith, professor and head of the Department of Pharmacy Practice. “Some will play their regular career roles, such as the attorneys and the judge, while others will become actors and take part as the defendant, victim’s family, witnesses or jurors.”
Clanton attorney Mark Conradi, an Auburn pharmacy graduate who teaches pharmacy law at Auburn, will be the defense lawyer. Robbie Treese, a prosecutor with the Lee County district attorney’s office, will be the prosecuting attorney, while Jacob A. Walker III, presiding judge of the Lee County Circuit Court, will serve as the judge.
“The case will demonstrate to the students the tremendous responsibility that the public places on the pharmacist to protect and enhance the health of patients,” Smith said.
Teams of Auburn’s future pharmacists will have worked on the case prior to being served with the complaint on Thursday. During the mock trial on Friday, they will compare their solutions with the defense attorney’s approach.
The case is set around a fictional 26-year-old female who is prescribed an anticoagulant, or blood thinner, medication. A few weeks later, she is prescribed an antibiotic for a different ailment. The pharmacist overlooks a known interaction problem between the medications, which results in the patient’s death.
“It is going to be a very eye-opening experience for the student pharmacists,” Smith said. “Some members of the university’s mock trial competitive team will serve as the jury along with several staff from the Harrison School of Pharmacy.
“As student pharmacists observe, there will be open deliberations so everyone can hear the process of coming to a decision of guilty or not guilty. If the defendant is found guilty, then the jury will deliberate on the damages.”
This is the fourth year the pharmacy school has presented a mock trial. Auburn University legal counsel Lee Armstrong played the prosecutor for two years, while retired Alabama Supreme Court Justice C.C. “Bo” Torbert and Lee County Assistant District Attorney Kenneth Gibbs both previously served as the judge. Conradi has been the defense attorney each year. This is Treese’s second year serving as the plaintiff’s attorney and Judge Walker’s first year as judge.
(Contributed by Charles Martin.)