Gov-Run Healthcare Scandal: Pharmacists Err with impunity

There is yet another healthcare scandal associated with Veterans Affairs.

veterans affairs

Back when the Veteran’s Affairs hospital scandal broke out, I pointed out that this was sign of the future for all of us under Obamacare. Government healthcare produces shortages. Shortages demonstrate the inadequacy of the system and make the government liable. So, quite often, government-run healthcare entails a systematic effort to deceive the public about the effectiveness of the system. Thus, the VA had secret waiting lists that they did not want anyone to learn about.

So too, when government doctors mess up, it is better to leave them alone and hope nobody notices. The Washington Times reports, “VA pharmacists unpunished for serious — even fatal — errors dispensing drugs.”

Pharmacists who made serious or potentially fatal errors dispensing drugs at the VA in New Jersey kept their jobs and often weren’t even severely disciplined, according to testimony from their colleagues and other records.

One chemotherapy patient died after a 2001 overdose, but the pharmacist continued working for the VA for years, according to records obtained by The Washington Times under the Freedom of Information Act.

In another case, a pharmacist prescribed a potentially fatal dose of another medication, but neither that employee nor a supervisor, who also had a history of prescribing errors, was disciplined beyond being ordered to undergo counseling.

The records were filed in an administrative hearing for Muhamad Sadiq, a pharmacist whom the VA fired but who is appealing the decision, saying he was being singled out even though colleagues made even worse errors.

“Errors might be pointed out, but in a global sense, nobody is going to be publicly identified and held out to dry for a mistake,” one staff pharmacist testified in an administrative hearing.

The 2001 chemotherapy case was the most egregious to come to light. According to partly redacted administrative records and transcripts at the Merit Systems Protection Board, he received a dose that was five times the prescribed amount of chemotherapy medication.

A staff pharmacist testified that another pharmacist had erred in reading the milligram strength off of a box of medication.

“Later I came to find out there was a fivefold medication error made, resulting in the death of a patient,” the pharmacist said.

The patient died within weeks, and a root cause analysis showed the death was “hastened by the overdose,” but the pharmacist said that there was no indication of any formal action taken by the VA after the error, according to transcripts.

Readers might notice that this information came to light because a fired pharmacist is fighting to get his job back. Much like happened recently in the case of a fired police officer, he is arguing that he should be reinstated because other VA pharmacists did far worse and got to keep their jobs.