CVS Pharmacy Errors

CVS is either the first or second largest pharmacy in the United States, alternating with Walgreen’s depending on what criteria are being used to rank the pharmacy giants.  There are more than 7,000 CVS stores located in forty-one states.  Each year, the stores operated under CVS Pharmacy, Inc. and CVS Caremark Corp. fill millions of prescriptions.  These stores also employ pharmacists who make numerous mistakes each year, leading to devastating consequences.

Pharmacies and the pharmacists owe patients a duty of care to dispense drugs in a safe manner, specifically including dispensing the right medication in the proper dose to the correct patient.  When there is a breach of that duty, it is necessary to hold the pharmacy accountable to compensate the victim and bring about a necessary change in policies and procedures.  The highly skilled medical malpractice and pharmacy error attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano have more than three decades of experience getting justice for their clients through full and fair monetary awards to compensate for the devastating pharmacy negligence that impacted you or your loved one.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration estimates that 1.3 million people are injured annually by prescription medication mistakes, a staggering number!  CVS has been headlining newspapers across the United States for many years for pharmacy errors.  It has been accused of failing to train its pharmacists properly.  In Georgia, a woman sued CVS for mixing up her prescription medication.  In the case of Barry v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc., Bridgette Barry alleged that instead of the prescription drug Kapidex to treat acid reflux, she was given Casodex, a drug used in the treatment of prostate cancer.  She became severely ill.  Compounding the error, after Ms. Barry completed months of rehabilitation, CVS pharmacists again confused the prescriptions.  Errors like these, leading to severe harm and, in certain cases, death, occur with alarming frequency. Our firm has successfully brought dozens of claims against CVS and other pharmacies for prescription errors. Some cases settled pre-suit, while others settled in litigation.

Pharmacies are required to maintain a database of information on their patients, which tracks prescriptions, dosages, and other useful records.  Pharmacists are supposed to use this data to make sure that prescriptions being filled are in accordance with other drugs that the patient is taking or took in the past.  This system also should be used to flag any drug interactions and prevent dangerous situations from occurring.  Unfortunately, there are numerous affirmative errors made by CVS pharmacists every day, as well as omissions that lead to serious harm.

·         Wrong Medication Errors – There are many different ways that a patient can get the incorrect medication.  The case of Barry versus CVS involved the dispensing of the wrong medication because of name confusion.  In addition, a pharmacist can give one patient the medication intended for another, the wrong medication can be placed in the vial with a different drug on the label; prescriptions that are unclear can be filled on the best guess of the pharmacist rather than at the confirmation of the prescribing physician.  In 2009, Greenberg, Stone & Urbano sued a CVS Pharmacy in Boca Raton, Florida  for dispensing the wrong medication to  two different patients twice in the same week!  .

·         Overdose Errors – An overdose error could be the result of the transposition of numbers by the pharmacist or the misplacement of a decimal place, which could mean that a prescription for a dose of 1.5 milliliters is filled with 15 milliliters.  These errors can severely harm a patient.  An infant in Linden, New Jersey, weighing less than twenty pounds, was given a prescription for a cough medicine with directions to give a dose intended for a 120 pound adult.  The infant’s physician had written the prescription in the right dose (1/4 teaspoon every twelve hours) but the prescription that was filled directed one full teaspoon every twelve hours, four times the prescribed dose.  An overdose can lead to nausea, restlessness, hallucinations, seizures, and fainting, as well as high blood pressure, leading to possible brain damage. 

·         Underdose Errors – For a patient with a serious medical condition, receiving less than the required dose can be as dangerous as receiving too much.  The impact of providing a sub therapeutic dose of medication may be overlooked when other, more dramatic, errors take place with depressing regularity, but studies show that taking less than the prescribed dose can have severe health consequences.

·         Toxicity Caused by Prescription Errors – Toxicity can be the result of an extreme overdose in the filling of a prescription.  Often times, this is seen in compounding pharmacies, where the drug is being specifically prepared for a certain patient and is not a mass produced and widely available drugs.  In cases like this, the error usually is not discovered until the patient suffers severe harm because there is not a standard against which to compare the drug being provided and one of the correct dose and medication.

·         Poisoning as a Result of Prescription Errors – There are many drugs that are prescribed by physicians that actually are poisonous, but can be used under strictly regulated circumstances to treat specific conditions.  One of the most common of this classification of drugs are the chemotherapy drugs prescribed to cancer patients.  A CVS in Chatham, New Jersey was discovered to have inadvertently given children the chemotherapy drug tamoxifen, used to treat breast cancer, instead of fluoride tablets for a period of two months.

·         Death through Prescription Mistakes – Although it is completely preventable, there are many deaths that are linked to errors at pharmacies throughout the country, including many tied to CVS pharmacy errors.  In Lakeland, Florida, the family of a woman who died in May 2011 is suing CVS based on giving the woman a medication intended for another patient.  The family of Addie Morrissey is suing CVS Pharmacy, Inc. and CVS Caremark Corp. for filling a prescription for hydrocodone that was prescribed by a different doctor for a different patient.  Ms. Morrisey was taking four other prescribed medications and died of multiple drug intoxication.


How does a big corporation like CVS Pharmacy allow these types of mistakes to happen so frequently?

There are many factors that come into play when analyzing why prescription errors happen, but some of the most common reasons are:

·         Poor training of its pharmacists – this is one of the most glaring of the many types of negligence;

·         Failing to have the right policies and systems in place – procedures that force a series of checks and re-checks, would prevent many pharmacy errors;

·         Overworked pharmacy staff – like many businesses, corporate giants like CVS require a lot out of their employees, which can lead to a pharmacist being rushed, distracted, or tired when filling a prescription;

·         A failure to communicate between the pharmacy and the doctor – if there is a question of dose, medication type, or any other issue that arises when a pharmacist first reads the prescription, nothing should be dispensed until there is a conversation with the prescribing doctor seeking a clarification of the prescription details, including drug, dose, and directions; and

·         Reduction of staff to decrease costs – this causes errors related to having overworked staff.

What recovery is possible in a lawsuit against CVS?

In order to recover damages from a pharmacy like CVS, it is necessary to file a personal injury action, which the law permits.  The compensation that can be awarded includes:

·         Funds to cover the extensive medical bills that result from pharmacy errors;

·         Lost wages due to missed work or a loss of a job that occurred because of the pharmacy mistake and resulting harm;

·         An award to recognize the pain and suffering that you have experienced as a result of the pharmacy error;

·         Money to cover lost income that a person would have earned but for the negligence; and

·         Damages for any resulting impairment.

Consult with a Knowledgeable Law Firm with Questions about CVS Pharmacy Errors

The Miami medical malpractice and personal injury attorneys at AV-rated Greenberg, Stone & Urbano have the expertise to answer your questions about pharmacy errors and the life-altering consequences of this type of negligence.  Our trial lawyers have professional relationships with medical experts who understand the ramifications of pharmacy errors and can discuss the long-term impacts of these mistakes so that the jury understands the extent of the harm.

For a Free Consultation – Call (888) 499-9700 or (305)595-2400

If you or a loved one has been harmed as a result of a CVS or Caremark pharmacy error, contact the attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano today for a Free consultation. We offer legal services in English and Spanish, and we are available 24/7 via e-mail and answering service.