Pharmacists dispense medication to consumers in retail pharmacies, hospitals, nursing homes, and even home care settings. While many prescriptions are dispensed safely, there are numerous patients who have suffered the effects of receiving the wrong medications or the incorrect dosage of drugs. To ensure pharmacists are keeping patients’ safety in mind, state boards of pharmacy inspect pharmacies from time to time.
Earlier this year, The Boston Globe shed light on the fact that the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the state’s board of pharmacy are behind in investigating consumer complaints. Not only have they fallen behind in conducting safety inspections, but they are five months behind in responding to consumer complaints due to years of budget cuts. Now, pharmacies, nursing homes, and hospitals may be inspected more often in Massachusetts due to an increased budget.
A $34 billion budget was recently approved by lawmakers and has designated $2.5 million to these areas including:
- $1.2 million for the review of hospitals and other health care clinics and facilities
- $1.3 million for pharmacy inspections, including compounding pharmacies
Once Governor Deval Patrick approves this spending plan, more inspectors will be hired to visit pharmacies and other health care facilities.
The funding for pharmacy inspectors is critical after the national public health crisis last year that involved contaminated steroids produced by a Framingham, Massachusetts, compounding pharmacy. Sadly, 55 people died and over 740 people were sickened by the fungal meningitis outbreak. One of the reasons this national outbreak occurred is because the state pharmacy board of Massachusetts has not regularly inspected this compounding pharmacy.
Following this health scare, the board has since conducted unannounced inspections of about 40 similar pharmacies—revealing many health and safety problems. With this extra money in the budget, the board will expand its oversight and increase the amount of surprise inspections they can perform.
As more people complain about pharmacy errors and more inspections take place at retail pharmacies and compounding pharmacies, consumers will be safer. Because the state pharmacy board will not be able to inspect every pharmacy every year, consumers need to continue to look out for their own safety by:
- Double checking their name on the pill bottle
- Consulting with the pharmacist
- Finding out about the medication’s side effects
- Reading the instructions
- Ensuring the label is correct
- Verifying the prescription is what the doctor ordered
If you have been harmed by a negligent pharmacist, the board of pharmacy should hear from you. Additionally, you should contact a skilled pharmacy error attorney to learn about your rights and help you prepare your claim for damages. Call Kennedy Hodges, toll-free at 888-526-7616, for a free consultation, and to request a free copy of our report, How to Make Pharmacies Pay for Injuries Caused by Medication Errors.