Many of the large pharmacy chains have virtually taken over the drug dispensing for the entire country, putting many local and neighborhood pharmacies out of business in the process. However, the processes that they have created along with their relentless focus on profits has put the general public at risk as the pharmacists are at great risk for medication errors. Numerous doctors and pharmacists have complained that the pharmacies are compromising the health and safety of their patients through their operational and business practices. However, little action has been taken against this growing threat to the public, and the pharmacies’ business practices continue unabated. However, you still have legal protections even if the government will not put a stop to these procedures that put you in danger.
Paperwork Consumes Pharmacists’ Time
The pharmacies impose a burdensome level of verification and paperwork on their already overworked staff. The amount of hoops that pharmacists must jump through to get a prescription approved in time-consuming. They report having to spend more time on this than they are able to devote to counseling patients on their medications and ensuring their physical safety.
At the same time, there are fewer pharmacists and staff than there were in the past because the large chain continuously cut back to keep their expenses low. Because the level of staffing is kept low, the existing pharmacists who still have their jobs are overworked and overburdened. Many believe that the purpose of their job is to meet corporate metrics of performance as opposed to caring for the public. The nonstop pressure that comes with the forms that they need to fill out and the boxes that they must check distracts them from paying attention to the accuracy of their work and the counseling that they give to patients.
The errors that the pharmacies can make as a result of these structural impediments that keep the pharmacists from doing their job range from minor to more critical. There have been numerous instances of mistakes that have cost lives. For example, one pharmacy in Florida dispensed a powerful chemotherapy drug to a patient who was having a prescription filled for an antidepressant. The patient died as a result of the error. Another patient received ear drops instead of the eye drops called for by his prescription.
Pharmacists Self-Report that they Are a “Danger to the Public”
Unfortunately, these errors have become all too routine at the nation’s pharmacies. Pharmacists have been filing complaints with state regulatory agencies about how their work conditions make them more likely to err. One pharmacist even went as far to inform the state that they were a “danger to the public.” Another pharmacist complained that the paperwork requirements imposed were impacting their effectiveness in their role. When a pharmacist is ineffective, it can cost lives. Pharmacists are even telling state regulators that they are making more mistakes in their job, and the number of errors is on the rise.
These complaints are piling up in states around the country as pharmacists try to sound the alarm about the conditions that they face. Some pharmacists claims that they are incentivized by their employee bonus system that rewards them for pushing refills out the door as quickly as possible. The time pressure reduces the amount of quality control checking that the pharmacist can do of their own work. Many pharmacists are compensated for calling customers and getting them to agree to whatever request that they make during the phone call. In many cases, the request is that of a prescription refill.
In fact, surveys of pharmacists reveal the difficulties that they face in doing their jobs. In a survey or roughly 1,000 pharmacists, over half of them reported that the pressures of their job interfere with their ability to care for their patients. Unfortunately, many of the pharmacists need to come forward with anonymous complaints to regulators because they fear for the consequences of speaking out about their jobs. Then, in some cases, the regulators take no action about the complaints that they receive.
Pharmacists Are Paid to Push Prescriptions
One of the biggest offenders when it comes to imposing incentives that act against patients’ bets interests and safety is CVS. The large chain reportedly makes sure that its customers are well-stocked with medication even if their safety dictates receiving less medication.
An example of this is the psychiatric medications that doctors prescribe. Sometimes, whether it is because the pills can be addicting or a risk for overdose, it is bets for patients to receive these pills a month at a time. This also keeps them under the treatment of a psychiatrist more frequently during what may be a difficult time. However, CVS goes against doctors’ recommendations and gives its patients a three-month supply of these pills. This clearly meets the pharmacy’s own interests because it increases drug sales, but it may not be in the best interests of the patient.
States Lack Tools to Regulate
Much of this results from gaps in regulation of pharmacies at the state level. Many states regulators report that their laws do not allow them to take the measures that they need to in order to crack down on practices like the ones described above. In some cases, there are even pharmaceutical industry representatives on the state regulatory boards.
Another contributing factor is the rise of benefit managers who ultimately put pressure on the pharmacies to keep costs low. They also slap steep fees on the pharmacies, forcing them to mind their finances more and more in their daily operations. In essence, benefit managers are another mouth to feed in the supply chain and they have leverage and power over the pharmacies. While the large chain’s actions may not be excusable, in some respects, they are a response to the reality imposed on them by the benefit manager. In the meantime, the level of patient care deteriorates and states largely do little to nothing to step up for the consumers.
Pharmacy errors are a serious matter that can cause serious or deadly injuries to patients. If you or a loved one has been harmed by an error made by the pharmacy, they can be held legally responsible for your injury and be made to pay financial compensation for the injury. Contact the lawyers at Sadaka and Associates today to find out more about your legal rights when your pharmacist has made a mistakes that has injured you.
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