A Washington state pharmacist working at a Safeway pharmacy in Yamika had her license suspended by the Department of Health last month. For patrons of the pharmacy, the news was terrifying. The pharmacist, Rachel Loukas, was allegedly intoxicated at work while handling prescriptions.
The State of Washington’s Department of Health released a statement of charges that painted a grim picture. The only pharmacist on duty, Loukas’ two pharmacy technicians found her falling asleep while checking prescriptions. When they tried to wake her, she removed a bottle of morphine tablets from the shelf and ingested them. Upon arrival to the hospital, it was found that Ms. Loukas had an extremely high blood alcohol concentration, in addition to testing positive for morphine.
Did the Washington State Board of Pharmacy Do Enough?
While the Washington Board of Pharmacy acted swiftly to suspend Ms. Loukas’s pharmacist credentials, a closer look at how she was granted the license raises some questions.
Rachel Loukas had been practicing under a conditional license issued in 2010, the conditions being that she completed the Washington Recovery Assistance Program for Pharmacy (WRAPP) while allowing the Board to monitor her compliance with the program. This condition was issued based on Loukas’s history of three alcohol-related convictions, including one DUI in Montana from 2009.
In a notice sent to Ms. Loukas in June 2010, the Washington State Department of Health stated that the above conditions were adequate in protecting the public—but the California Board of Pharmacy disagreed.
In December 2011, Ms. Loukas applied for a pharmacist license in California, but her application was denied based on the same prior convictions. While Washington felt that a recovery program was sufficient, the California Board of Pharmacy stated that her history of alcohol-related charges and convictions were grounds for denial based on unprofessional conduct.
Why Did Two States Have Different Standards on What Constituted a Risk to the Public?
Fortunately, no Yakima Safeway customers have come forward with injuries from improperly filled prescriptions. This incident begs the question, however, of how two states could view a public health risk so differently.
If you are injured by a pharmacist’s negligence, the problem could be deeper than the individual pharmacist. Varying state standards for licensing could have put you or your family in harm’s way. If you have been hurt by a negligent or reckless pharmacist, connect with our firm now by clicking on the live chat feature on this page.