Lawsuit Charges CVS with Failing to Utilize Computer Software to Prevent Medication Errors
In a lawsuit filed last week, drugstore chain CVS is facing charges that it failed to "utilize, test and maintain" computer software capable of preventing a medication dispensing error that killed a Connecticut woman last year, the Hartford Courant reports. In a complaint served Wednesday, the two sons of Donna Marie Altieri accused CVS Pharmacy and a CVS pharmacist of "pharmaceutical negligence and wanton and reckless misconduct" in connection with the mistake that led to their mother's death. Altieri took a prescription for camphorated tincture of opium to a CVS pharmacy last June. The pharmacist mistakenly filled the prescription with tincture of opium, which contains 25 times more morphine than the prescribed drug. After taking the drug the next day, Altieri died of a morphine overdose. CVS has acknowledged the mistake, but the company blames the prescribing physician for not using the drug's common name, paregoric. The lawsuit, however, alleges that CVS is to blame because it failed to put in place or enforce the use of a system to check for prescription errors. The suit also charges that the pharmacist may have ignored a computer alert that the dosage of the medication was too high. Altieri's sons said the suit is part of a larger effort to publicize and prevent medication errors at CVS and other pharmacies. They are seeking monetary and punitive damages in excess of $15,000, as well as regulatory changes, including a rule that would require medication errors to be reported to the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection (Waldman, Hartford Courant, 2/28).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.