Articles Posted in Medication Errors

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The Florida Injury Lawyer Blog sometimes reports on out of state events which may impact Florida citizens. While this post deals with events which occurred in CVS Pharmacies in Connecticut, CVS does a significant amount of business in our state as well.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced Monday that his office has filed a law suit against CVS Pharmacy Inc., a division of CVS Caremark Corp., for allegedly selling over-the-counter drugs and other products in its stores in Connecticut which had already expired.

Blumenthal said that investigators from the AG’s office found expired over-the-counter medications as well as certain expired food and beverage items on sale in multiple CVS Pharmacy stores in Connecticut during an investigation which took place in 2008 and 2009.

The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection cooperated with the AG’s office in filing the lawsuit.

In a statement released by the Connecticut AG’s office, Mr. Blumenthal said that “Basic business law and ethics give consumers a right to unspoiled food and safe and effective medicine.” He also pledged to “…fight for significant penalties against CVS, sending a powerful message that expiration dates must be respected. Any item past its expiration date should be off shelves, out of stores.”

Just last month, CVS agreed to pay penalties and fees totaling approximately $875,000 to end an investigation by the New York Attorney General focusing on the sale of expired products in its New York stores.

CVS agreed to implement training for it’s employees and to commit to policies and procedures designed to prevent expired products from being stocked on its shelves.

New York Attorney General Cuomo reached a similar agreement with Rite Aid Corporation which resulted in the company agreeing to pay $1.3 million and to adopt new internal policies procedures.

A CVS spokeswoman had this to say in response to the allegations in Connecticut: “[t]he health and safety of our customers is our top priority, and CVS Pharmacy has a clear product removal policy in place at all of its stores to help ensure that items are removed from store shelves before they reach their expiration dates,” the spokeswoman said. “Any unintentional deviations from this policy that are brought to the company’s attention are quickly rectified for customers. The company is fully committed to maintaining inventory management practices to prevent expired products from being sold to customers.”
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Medication errors, whether the result of pharmacy errors or medical malpractice represent a significant portion of the preventable medical errors that take place every year in Florida and throughout the U.S.

It was ten years ago that the Institute of Medicine (IOM) declared that as many as 98,000 people die each year needlessly because of “preventable medical harm and errors.” A decade later, it is debatable whether any real progress has been made to reduce these errors and the harm that they can cause. Consumers Union, the non-profit publisher of Consumer Reports, issued a report in May 2009 indicating that preventable medical harm still accounts for more than 100,000 deaths each year. The report gave the country a failing grade on the progress that has been made in implementing the recommendations from the IOM study that it believes are necessary to create a health-care system that is free of preventable medical errors.

The Consumer Union report reveals that few hospitals have adopted well-known systems to prevent medication errors, and the FDA rarely intervenes.

Some medication errors are caused by similar drug names, packaging and design. Confusion between primidone and prednisone caused the death of an adolescent in 2004, and a report from 2008 indicated that prednisone is commonly confused with 12 other drugs. In 2007, the twin babies of actor Dennis Quaid and his wife were given 1,000 times the prescribed dose of the blood thinner heparin, which was packaged in similar vials with blue labels as those used by the manufacturer for its pediatric dosage, according to the Quaids’ lawsuit and testimony before Congress.
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