More Than 90 California Hospitals Face Fines Over Tainted Heparin
The California Pharmacy Board took steps toward citing and fining 94 hospitals and the head pharmacist at each facility for not complying with a recall of the blood-thinning drug heparin and removing the medications from hospital pharmacies, according to Virginia Herold, executive officer of the pharmacy board, the Los Angeles Daily Journal reports.
In February, heparin manufacturer Baxter Healthcare ordered a full recall of the treatment after concerns had been raised about the medication being contaminated. The company directed the drug to be removed from circulation and not administered to patients.
In at least 29 of the cases investigated, hospital pharmacists still seemed to be dispensing heparin, according to the Daily Journal.
Herold said that the board had not determined the amount of fines against the hospitals, which also could face fines from the Department of Public Health in the matter.
DPH helped the pharmacy board with the investigation, which stemmed from a survey of California hospitals from April to June. In addition, DPH sent a letter to hospitals and other medical facilities on May 2 reminding them to remove heparin from their pharmacies.
Individual pharmacists could face fines of $3,000 to $5,000.
Dawn Benton, executive vice president and CEO of the California Society of Health-System Pharmacists, said that members of the organization had asked the group to consider taking legal action to block the fines of individual pharmacists.
Dorel Harms, senior vice president of clinical services for the California Hospital Association, said that the situation underscores problems with the recall system and raised concerns that fines against individual pharmacists would hurt hospitals' efforts to recruit pharmacists (George, Los Angeles Daily Journal, 8/20).