Thursday, April 13, 2006

Walgreen's: The Pharmacy America Trusts?

I'd first like to thank my friends and readers, Carol and Teal for sending these articles my way. This is lengthy, so please bear with me....

Palm Beach woman sues Walgreens over insulting comments on prescription

For years, Janey Karp has battled depression and anxiety with the help of prescription drugs. Though millions of Americans do the same, Karp admits she is intensely private and can't help but feel stigmatized for needing medication to feel normal.

So when the 53-year-old Palm Beach resident read the Walgreens printout attached to her prescription last week for the sleep aid Ambien, she couldn't believe her eyes. Typed in a field reserved for patient information and dated March 17, 2005, was "CrAzY!!" In another field, dated Sept. 30, 2004, it read: "She's really a psycho!!! Do not say her name too loud, never mention her meds by names & try to talk to her when ... " The information continued onto another page but was not attached.

"I was devastated, humiliated and embarrassed," Karp said. "I honestly couldn't speak. I was trembling."

Karp filed suit Tuesday against Illinois-based Walgreen Co., accusing the nationwide retail chain of defamation, negligent supervision and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Since the notes have been in the computer since at least September 2004, the date of the first entry, it's anyone's guess how many Walgreens employees may have read them, Lively said.

The company Web site says there are 5,122 stores nationwide, with 673 in Florida. The site boasts that Walgreens new computer system for filling prescriptions links all stores into a single network.

Lively said the notes would not be an issue if the entry contained something helpful, such as the patient requests not to call out her name.

"But to put the demeaning terms crazy and psycho is not a patient preference and is not going to help a staff person provide a service," she said.


More Walgreens customers sue over insults on their prescription printouts

Less than a month after a Palm Beach woman sued Walgreens for labeling her "CrAzY!!" and "psycho" in its nationwide computer system, two more Floridians have come forward with similar allegations.

A Palm Beach Gardens grandmother, 64, filed suit Wednesday, accusing the retail chain of negligent supervision and intentional infliction of emotional distress for typing in its system in May 2003: "WATCH CONTROLS SHE SEEMS SHADY."

For nearly 20 years, Elizabeth Noah has patronized the Fairway Drive Walgreens near her home in PGA National, she said. So when the retired United Technologies financial analyst picked up a prescription for anxiety medication the evening of Feb. 6, she began to cry when she read the notation on the Drug Utilization Review -- or DUR -- stapled to the bag.

The other Walgreens pharmacy customer, Erin Cutler, 30, and a married mother of three who lives outside Ocala, was shocked when she saw that her Walgreens DUR labeled her a "b----." Also alleging negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress, Cutler is filing suit today in Marion County against pharmacist Bruce D. Adams and Walgreens. The initials B.D.A. are typed next to the Oct. 20 entry. Adams on Wednesday referred questions to the Walgreen Co.'s Deerfield, Ill. corporate office.

The DUR is an internal program, accessible to pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, according to Walgreens spokeswoman Carol Hively. The nationwide chain's 5,122 stores -- 677 in Florida -- are connected via satellite and each location has access to the information stored in the system, the lawsuits state.

Palm Beach resident Janey Karp, who takes medication for depression and anxiety, filed suit against Walgreens on March 7, after being labeled crazy and psycho.

"The purpose of the notes field [in the DUR] is to help our patients by entering information related to customer service preferences or insurance," Hively said. "Personal or uncomplimentary comments about a patient is a totally inappropriate use of the notes field. This should never have occurred. We take patient concerns very seriously and have apologized to Ms. Karp. We are reiterating our policies with pharmacy staff and have launched an investigation into this matter."

Walgreens has never apologized to Karp, according to Lake Worth attorney Cathy Lively, who represents all three plaintiffs. Noah and Cutler contacted Lively after reading about Karp's case.

Since Karp's case made national news, Lively said she has been flooded with calls and e-mails from Walgreens customers reporting similar experiences across the country.

"It's certainly not an anomaly. It cannot be, there are way too many," she said.

[said Cutler], who now uses another pharmacy chain. "This is the pharmacy that America trusts, that's their slogan. The trust is gone."


And just when you think it couldn't get any worse.....

Girl Sues Over Birth Control Pill Embarrassment

CHICAGO A 14-year-old girl was subjected to ridicule and emotional distress from other students at her school when a classmate spread the word that she was taking birth control pills, according to a lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court on Tuesday.

Britney Oliver found out that the girl was taking birth control from her mother, Susan Oliver, a Walgreen pharmacist, the suit says.

Susan Oliver was employed as a pharmacy technician at a Walgreen store in Posen when the unnamed 14-year-old picked up a prescription for Ortho Tri-Cyclen, birth control pills, at the store on Feb. 13, the suit said. Oliver told her daughter Britney that the girl, a classmate of hers, had a prescription for and picked up the pills, the suit says.

Britney shared that confidential information with many students at the school, and as a result, the 14-year-old, โ€œJane Doe,โ€ suffered mental anguish, severe emotional distress and was the target of ridicule among peers, the suit says.

Susan Oliver, her daughter Britney, and Walgreen Co. are named as defendants in the suit. In addition to public disclosure of private information, breach of fiduciary duty and intentional infliction of emotional distress by the Olivers and Walgreen, the suit also says Walgreens is guilty of fraud and deceit, since in much of its advertising, the company calls itself "The Pharmacy America Trusts." The suit alleges that is false advertising.


At 7:32 AM, Blogger mdmhvonpa said...

Hrmmm ... we left Walgreens some time back. All of our regular stuff comes in the mail now but we still need to get the occasional 'immediate' stuff there or at CVS ... usually at CVS.

At 7:24 PM, Blogger Angel said...

Wow, I will rethink using Walgreens!!!!

At 10:36 AM, Blogger drugnazi said...

I've worked at 3 different retail chains over the course of my career, and at every one, plus the independent stores I interned/externed at while in college. There was some sort of field in the computer system that got used for comments like these. Walgreens may have been the ones who got busted here, but I guarantee you this type of thing happens almost anywhere prescriptions are filled.

As far as the pharmacist who blabbed about her customers birth control, she needs to be held accountable. There can be no excuse for that type of behavior.

At 6:56 PM, Blogger amanda said...

Well I guess I am glad that the nearest Walgreen's is like an hour and a half away. I like my pharmacy hopefully they don't write shit like that about me!!!!


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