Chain Pharmacies and Pharmacy Malpractice
Pharmacy malpractice is not something you hear a lot about. In fact, most of the medical malpractice stories that you’ll hear about in the news are either outrageous mistakes caused by incompetent doctors or jaw-dropping verdicts in favor of plaintiffs. The rest tend to fly underneath the radar.
But when a pharmacist makes a mistake, not only is the patient not getting the treatment their doctor says they need, but they’re also taking a medication that may interact badly with their condition or other medications that they’re prescribed.
Are Chain Pharmacies Harming Patients?
In letters to state regulatory boards, several pharmacists working at popular chains like Rite Aid, CVS, and Walgreens describe conditions that make it difficult for them to safely dispense medicine. Mostly, they say that their pharmacies are understaffed and that they are required to meet corporate performance metrics which they claim are unachievable.
By and large, this is not just a problem for pharmacies, but for health professionals in general. Low patient-to-staff ratios and overburdened workers make for unsafe health care—a fact that should surprise no one. But keeping costs low ensures that these businesses are profitable and employees are bearing the brunt of that problem with patients a close second.
One Texas pharmacist told the Texas State Board of Pharmacy that they were a “danger to the public” working for CVS. They said that the amount of busywork they are expected to do while filling and verifying prescriptions was not conducive to healthy outcomes.
A similar problem is becoming known throughout the U.S. with at least 24 states reporting medication errors and pharmacists filing complaints. Meanwhile, doctors are also filing complaints as pharmacies bombard them with continuous requests to authorize refills, even after the doctor has discontinued the medication. According to several pharmacists, these refills are closely tracked by pharmacy chains and can make a difference when factoring in employee bonuses.
Here in Florida, the chief executive of the Florida Pharmacy Association, Michael Jackson, noted a number of complaints concerning staffing cuts and patient safety have become “overwhelming”.
Pharmacists Ignoring Doctor’s Orders?
The American Psychiatric Association has recently expressed concern that pharmacies—and particularly CVS—are ignoring doctor’s instructions to dispense limited amounts of medication to those suffering from psychiatric conditions. CVS generally allows patients to take home three-month supplies of psychiatric meds despite doctors warning that they may potentially be used to commit suicide. Of course, it’s more cost-effective for CVS and other chain pharmacies to dispense as much medication as they can get paid for.
Meanwhile, efforts at regulating chain pharmacies often come up short when key chair holders are also representatives of chain pharmacies. Here in Florida, the pharmacy association’s board includes an attorney for CVS and a director of pharmacy affairs from Walgreens.
Talk to a Medical Malpractice Attorney Today
If you suffered an injury after a pharmacist dispensed the wrong medication, the Tampa medical malpractice lawyers at Palmer | Lopez can file a complaint on your behalf and hold the pharmacy responsible for your injuries. Talk to us today for a free consultation.