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CVS Pharmacist Says Chain Compromised Patient Safety

David W. Hodges
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Partner at Kennedy Hodges LLP practicing pharmacy error, medical malpractice and personal injury law
Posted on Jun 21, 2012

An ex-pharmacist working for CVS says that the chain retaliated against him when he told them their policies were responsible for causing harmful medication mistakes.


Joe Zorek has been in the pharmacy business for 43 years. He was a stock boy at age16 before he became a pharmacy tech, then went to pharmacy school, to eventually become pharmacist-in-charge at the Paxton Square CVS in suburban Harrisburg, PA. 


However, his relationship with his profession turned sour when the pharmacy chain forced him to leave his position over qualms about patient safety. He claims that CVS supervisors regularly ordered him to cut staff, as well as to "pick up the pace" when filling orders.


"It was like a harassing call every day saying, 'we got another patient complaining about long lines,'" Zorek said. "I said, 'I understand that.' I said, 'we don't have the bodies to get them out fast enough.'"


His staff shrank and the remaining techs became overworked. When medication mistakes happened, he appealed to his bosses to emphasize patient care over profits. Zorek claims that his pleas went unheard, and his supervisors responded by trying to demote him. 


Although he refused, he was forced to take medical leave in July, as the added stress was exacerbating his multiple sclerosis. He is currently seeking damages against CVS under the whistleblower act, claiming that CVS is retaliating against him for refusing to risk patient’s lives.


Zorek says that CVS staffers tell him that prescription mistakes are still an issue in his store, and they were even once told to “cover it up.”


"They were to keep it hush-hush, that unless the patient brought it to the attention of the pharmacy, it didn't happen," he said.


CVS spokesman Mike DeAngelis responded to media inquiries in a statement, saying that their customers’ health is the chain's "number one priority."

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