Anytime patients at California-based CVS pharmacies have new prescriptions filled or medications that have changed, pharmacists are supposed to counsel with patients about new or changed prescriptions, according to the law. Unfortunately, many pharmacies don’t follow the law and fail to counsel patients on medications they have never taken previously. The reason? Most pharmacists are overworked and don’t have time to provide consultations to every client—which is why they often have customers unknowingly sign counseling waivers.
While many pharmacists nationwide fail to provide consultations to patients on new prescriptions or changes in dosages, it appears some pharmacies are finally getting caught for failing to have their pharmacists consult with patients. A recent example of this is when CVS Pharmacy in California was fined approximately $700,000 for failing to have pharmacists provide oral consultations to patients on all new prescriptions as well as changed prescriptions.
With over 850 pharmacies in California, CVS Pharmacy was slapped with an action that was the result of a civil complaint under the state’s unfair competition laws. The complaint indicated that pharmacists at CVS throughout the state often fail to provide the required consultations on new and changed prescriptions. The judgment, reached by the Board of Pharmacy, the San Diego County district attorney’s Consumer Protection Unit and the Riverside and Alameda County district attorney offices, resulted in fining CVS Pharmacy $658,500.
The Board of Pharmacy cited CVS 22 times between March 2008 and September 2012 for its continual consultation violations. As a result, the district attorneys conducted undercover investigations in San Diego, Riverside and Alameda counties where they found a number of incidences in which CVS pharmacists did not provide the required consultations or didn’t offer patients consultations.
The Importance of a Pharmacist Consultation
The rules are in place to protect the public from pharmacy errors. Unfortunately, mistakes happen all the time at pharmacies that can cause innocent patients to suffer. To help patients understand how to take their medications, what the side-effects of the medication are, and to double check that the medication is accurate, are all reasons why patients should have consultations.
Sadly, some patients end up with medication intended for other customers, the wrong meds, the wrong dosage of drugs, or the wrong instructions. And yet, some patients receive the right medication but do not clearly understand the instructions. According to Stanley Weisser, California Board of Pharmacy president, studies have found that about 46 percent of patients misunderstand the instructions on prescription labels. “A consultation helps minimize or avoid medication errors, screens for drug interactions and ensures better compliance with therapy,” said Weisser.
The Board of Pharmacy cited CVS 22 times between March 2008 and September 2012 for its continual consultation violations. As a result, the district attorneys conducted undercover investigations in San Diego and Riverside and Alameda counties where they found a number of incidences in which CVS pharmacists did not provide the required consultations or didn’t offer consultations.
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