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Illinois Court Says Walgreens Does Not Have to Release Error Records

David W. Hodges
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Partner at Kennedy Hodges LLP practicing pharmacy error, medical malpractice and personal injury law
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A recent legal case raises worrying questions about the number of Walgreens prescription errors--and how companies can get around releasing their records of patient harm.

The case began in 2010, after three Walgreens pharmacists reported severe medication negligence to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. The agency began an investigation, and issued three separate subpoenas to Walgreens, requesting copies of their pharmacy medication error incident reports. 

But Walgreens refused to release the records. The company told the agency that it did not have to provide error reports to anyone if they had already been reported to a patient safety organization.

The department sued Walgreens to force them to release the error reports. Unfortunately, the trial ruled in favor of Walgreens, saying that the information was privileged under the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act. This federal law states that if pharmacies, hospitals and physicians report their medical errors to patient safety organizations, the details will remain confidential. 

Doctors and pharmacists gave statements in the case, saying that releasing pharmacy error reports to the public would also mean releasing confidential health information. The IDFPR disagreed, saying that patient information did not have to be compromised to provide information, and insisted that not every incident report kept by Walgreens was privileged under the law. 

Still, the decision was upheld by the court of appeals--making it that much harder for a regulatory commission to get a full picture of why mistakes happen in pharmacies.

If someone in your family suffered a prescription drug mistake, we can help. Call Kennedy Hodges today at (888) 526-7616 for a FREE consultation, or get more information in our FREE consumer guide, How to Make Pharmacies Pay for Injuries Caused by Medication Errors.

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