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Pharmacy Chains Blamed as Medication Errors Rise


Pharmacists are filing complaints with state pharmacy boards in droves as medication errors at some of America’s largest chains are on the rise. Many claim that staffing cutbacks and unreasonable corporate expectations for volume are causing them to perform their job in a manner which puts the public at risk.

Michael Jackson, the chief executive of Florida’s Pharmacy Association, has fielded an “overwhelming” number of complaints from both pharmacists, doctors, and patients concerned over the many lapses in patient safety in many of the U.S.’s largest chain pharmacy companies.

How is this happening? Pharmacists cite concerns that they are being overwhelmed by prescription requests while doctors cite concerns that medications are not being dispensed as ordered. Meanwhile, patients are being dispensed the wrong medication causing them severe complications.

American Psychiatric Association Complaints 

When psychiatrists dispense medication, particularly to those who suffer from depression or are at increased risk of suicide, they often tell pharmacies to only dispense a one-month supply at a time. At least one large pharmacy chain—CVS—refuses to follow these instructions and the APA has expressed concern over this.

These measures are put in place because many psychiatric patients use their own medications in an attempt to take their own life. CVS and several other chain pharmacies ignore these instructions dispensing three-month supplies against a doctor’s explicit instructions. This, the APA says, puts patients in danger.

Attempts to Regulate Pharmacies are Unsuccessful 

California was the first state in the country to try to regulate pharmacies and the way they operate business, but their efforts fell short. Meanwhile, even as complaints continue to pour in, attempts to establish a code of conduct in chain pharmacies are falling short.

Michael Jackson notes that here in Florida there are two members on the Florida Pharmacy Association who have direct ties to chain pharmacies. One is a lawyer for CVS while the other is the head of pharmacy operations at Walgreens. This makes it less likely that pharmacists who are working under conditions they feel are unsafe for consumers will voice those complaints for fear of losing their jobs.

Officials from several state boards expressed frustration, saying that they only had a very limited authority to press for change. Additionally, the vast majority of state boards do not require pharmacies to even report medication errors, so unless a patient becomes violently ill, it’s impossible to know just how rampant this issue is.

Spokespersons for chain pharmacies insist that patient safety is their foremost concern and that their pharmacies are adequately staffed to ensure the best outcomes. They claim that advances in e-prescriptions and other technologies have actually increased patient safety, and dismissed concerns (even from pharmacists) that they were under too much pressure.

Talk to a St. Petersburg Medical Malpractice Attorney Today 

Pharmacists and the companies they work for can also be sued for medical malpractice. If you’ve suffered injury due to a medication error, call the St. Petersburg medical malpractice lawyer at Masterson & Hoag, P.A. to schedule a free consultation today.




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