Patient Dies After Deodorizer Is Given in Place of Medicine

Associated Press

An 81-year-old man who drank a fatal dose of a liquid air freshener that had been mixed by accident with juice while he awaited routine surgery was the victim of “a human error,” hospital officials said today.

Fred Hicks Sr., who entered Vanderbilt Hospital for treatment of cataracts, drank the toxic fluid March 13 when it, instead of his medication, was mixed with the juice, and he died the same day.

“The man was . . . accidentally given an air freshener called Oil of Wintergreen instead of his medication,” hospital spokesman Jack Kennedy said. “It was a human error, and we are very, very sorry about the accident.”

Several hours elapsed before Hicks began vomiting and doctors realized he had been given the wrong fluid, Kennedy said.


Officials said Hicks’ medication and the air freshener were both green and kept in similar containers stored in a hospital refrigerator.