A report by a Chicago newspaper has shown that pharmacies may not be as safe as we think. Reporters entered two different pharmacy chains with prescriptions. Taken separately, the prescribed drugs were safe. Taken together, they had potentially dangerous side effects, including death. In neither instance did the pharmacist warn the reporters of the possible dangers of drug interactions.
Reporters took prescriptions to two more pharmacies with the same results. Ultimately, the Tribune tested 255 separate pharmacies to determine how often it would dispense two or more drugs that, taken in combination, had potentially deadly results without warning the patient of those hazards. More than half of the pharmacies in the report dispensed the medications with no warning whatsoever.
CVS was discovered to be the worst offender. The pharmacies failed to warn patients at a result of 63 percent. Walgreens had the lowest rate of failure at 30 percent. The report points out that this is still a rate of 1 in 3 patients. The problem does not lie solely with the big chain pharmacies. Private and independent pharmacies had a failure rate of 72 percent.
The report also indicated that location didn’t matter. Pharmacists were hurried and rarely spoke to customers no matter if the pharmacy was located in a poor neighborhood or one considered to be affluent.
The study took place over a two-year period. To blame is a combination of hurried staff, failing computer alert systems and an emphasis on fast service. Another reason was thought to be the frequent release of new drugs, but the study used prescriptions for drugs that had been on the market for years and were well known.
While some prescriptions were handed over to the pharmacist at the same time, others were filled days apart. The timing did not seem to matter. The cause of the failures to warn patients do not matter if you are a patient. What does matter is the ability to walk in to and out of a pharmacy without worry that you will be a victim.
If you have been harmed by medical error in New York, reach out to our team of experienced medical malpractice attorneys. We will review the details of your case at no cost to you and advise you of your options.