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With all the talk about doctor-shopping on the site lately, I thought people might be interested in this article from today's Wall Street Journal:
The families of two victims of a woman who was driving while seriously impaired on opiates are suing the pharmacies where she had been filling a LARGE number of prescriptions. The article raises some interesting questions.
I was able to read the first paragraph, then it s aid I had to subscribe to WSJ in order to continue. The article was so interested I was tempted to do so but I unfortunately don't have enough money where reading this paper would be interesting .
Assuming that the article is about blaming the pharmacies for the driver's accident, my opinion is that there is enough blame to go around and its all about greed. Frist, to the pharma companies who pump out millions millions of doses and don't really research alternatives for pain relief because it wouldn't be as economically feasable. The doctors who continued to perscribe to her, although they surely got the same letters as the pharmacies, and the pharmacies who are in it for the money. A pharmacy is a corporation after all and profit is the bottom line. Its all about business. But when all is said and done, the driver herself certainly will have to take responsibility for her own actions, most likely by doing jail time.
What a drag you can only read the first paragraph! I read it in the paper edition and then looked for it online. I'll keep an eye on it for a few days to see if they allow access to it once it's no longer a new story.
The woman involved had filled literally hundreds of prescriptions for painkillers the previous year. I'm shocked that no one at any of her pharmacies raised a red flag....but it seems to be unclear what their legal obligation is. Any individual could conceivably get so intoxicated with pills from a single legal prescription that she could cause a terrible accident: where is the line that gets crossed that determines at which point the pharmacies are at fault? And what if pharmacies do start refusing to fill legitimate prescriptions, out of fear of liability? It then becomes the pharmacist against the doctor who wrote the prescription...and also, could a pharmacy not be sued if they refused to fill a prescription and a patient suffered as a result of their decision?
The article does mention the law that now prohibits bartenders from selling drinks to people who are obviously drunk. It's an interesting analogy, but not a perfect match of circumstances.
Anyhow, I'll let you know if I can find a link to the whole story at some point.
Thank you, Maise. I'd really like to read the article. It raises several questions. One is, its interesting that they are suing deep pocket pharmacies like Walgreens and Walmart, (I read that in some of the comments they showed about the article) rather than suing the woman. Who will make ALL the dough? The lawyers as usual. Of course, the pharmacies have the bucks, the woman driver most surely does not. I'm not against litigating especially when there is loss of life or grave injury, but in this country we've taken it to a whole other level and lawyers profit the most. My sister's husband is an attorney and I love him as a person, but despise what he does. The difference with a bartender serving someone booze is that a reasonable person would KNOW that person couldn't drive at that time and would be a danger behind the wheel. A pharmacy is in business to fill perscriptions written by doctors. Don't the doctors have more liability? Pharmacies refusing to fill perscriptions written by doctors would open up a whole other can of worms. I agree with you. How do the know the difference between the druggie and the person who needs meds for legitimate pain and do they have a right to make that determination? Ultimately though, I think the buck stops with the woman who got behind the wheel. She drove stoned, killed someone and needs to go to jail.
4500 doses or pills in a year adds up to only around 12 pills per day, it's not really that whole hell of a lot, but that doesn't count all the street drugs that she probably bought on top of it. Not being able to read the entire article it does appear that maybe the State Board should share some of the liability, I think they're going to have a hard time proving fault with the pharmacies, they were filling legal scripts, for sure a few parties are negligent, but it seems the pharmacy is least at fault, but I don't know the whole story.
I found another article about this case, this one accessible to all. The victims' families DID sue the woman and the doctor who had been prescribing to her (and apparently also sleeping with her), but certainly smelled bigger money with the pharmacies.
There seems to be plenty of blame to go around here.
My 2 cents worth...
Thanks for the links, Maisie - interesting topic.
I did more than my share of questionable doctor/pharmacy juggling decades ago - when computers were not widespread, so no one could easily track what I was up to. But I'm certainly familiar with what goes on today, as I work with newcomers all the time - and they tell me!
I read through the article, and I saw that the pharmacy was notified by the "Nevada Prescription Controlled Substance Abuse Task Force" of this woman's extensive drug abuse that was quite apparent. I don't see that it says over what period of time she had been prescribed the "4500 doses" of hydocodone - so we can't guess what number of pills she was taking daily. And that was a year before the crime, so I'm sure that number escalated, as addiction does progress. It was 60 prescriptions - so that averaged 75 pills per prescription, which sounds a bit, ummm... generous by the doctors.
Anyway, the point is - the pharmacy was notified. What can they do? They do have the right to refuse to fill any prescription, period. Nothing demands that they fill every prescription presented to them. The most prudent next step to require, in my opinion, would be for the pharmacy to call the doctor's office - and tell them about the details of this "red flag." If the doctor is not aware, he should be made aware of it! That only makes sense.
From there, if the doctor is aware of the entire situation, and still wants the prescription filled, then if the pharmacy does so, I'd say the onus is on the doctor. The pharmacy should note it on the account, that the doctor was notified and agreed to proceed with the prescription - and then their responsibility is covered.
At that point, I'd still say the pharmacy has the right to refuse to fill it. Nothing should require a pharmacist to do anything that, in his educated opinion, is potentially that harmful.