The Chicago Tribune reported that half of pharmacies fail to warn consumers of drug interactions and contraindications.  In the largest and most comprehensive study of its kind, the Tribune tested 255 pharmacies to see how often stores would dispense dangerous drug pairs without warning patients. Fifty-two percent of the pharmacies sold the medications without ever mentioning the potential harmful interaction, striking evidence of an industry wide failure that places millions of consumers at risk.

Pharmacists failed to catch combinations that could trigger a stroke, result in kidney failure, deprive the body of oxygen or lead to unexpected pregnancy with a risk of birth defects.

Dangerous drug combinations are a major public health problem, hospitalizing tens of thousands of people each year. Pharmacists are the last line of defense, and their role is growing as Americans use more prescription drugs than ever. One in 10 people take five or more drugs — twice the percentage seen in 1994.

The Tribune study, two years in the making, exposes fundamental flaws in the pharmacy industry. Safety laws are not being followed, computer alert systems designed to flag drug interactions either don’t work or are ignored, and some pharmacies emphasize fast service over patient safety. Several chain pharmacists, in interviews, described assembly-line conditions in which staff hurried to fill hundreds of prescriptions a day.

In the fight to protect patients from dangerous drug interactions, doctors shoulder significant responsibility. They are the ones who write the prescriptions.  However, in filling prescriptions, pharmacists are uniquely positioned to detect potential drug interactions, warn patients and prevent harm. Pharmacists themselves say that is one of their primary duties.

Carmen Catizone, executive director of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, said the professional standard is clear. “Anytime there’s a serious interaction, there’s no excuse for the pharmacist not warning the patient about that interaction,” he said.

 In 2012, the nonprofit Institute for Safe Medication Practices conducted a national survey of 673 pharmacists and found that nearly two-thirds worked at stores that track the time it takes to fill prescriptions. About 25 percent worked at companies that guaranteed short wait times.

In 2013, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy called on states to prohibit, restrict or regulate company policies that measure the speed of pharmacists’ work. If pharmacists fall behind, the backlog pops up in color on their computer screens, said Chande, also a former union steward. “It’s an unreal pressure,” he said. “Your mind is kind of frantically trying to obey it.”

In response to the Tribune tests, CVS, Walgreens and Wal-Mart each vowed to take significant steps to improve patient safety at its stores nationwide. Combined, the actions affect 22,000 drugstores and involve additional training for 123,000 pharmacists and technicians.






The Hill had an article concerning the accuracy of the information on the federal website Nursing Home Compare.  Experts warn that information about nursing home staffing and quality is not accurate because facilities self-report and inflate staffing while covering up negligent care. CMS is aware that the higher ratings incentivize facilities to inflate their self-reported data.

Despite CMS’s efforts, the Government Accountability Office recently found the online tool does not give prospective patients accurate information. GAO specifically highlighted that facility star ratings should consider the perspective of beneficiaries and allow prospective beneficiaries to compare facilities nationally.

“Facilities boost their overall ratings by reporting information on staffing and assessment, and as a result they get very high star ratings,” said Toby Edelman, Center for Medicare Advocacy senior policy attorney. “There is often very little correlation between what the surveyors document on unannounced public survey and complaint investigations and what facilities self-report.”

 In 2015, Medicare spending on skilled nursing facilities totaled $29.8 billion for 1.7 million beneficiaries at about 15,000 facilities, according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission. That’s up slightly from 2014, when Medicare spent $28.6 billion.





The Chillicothe Gazette reported the guilty plea of Kali Jo Craiglow for abusing one of her patients in March at Westmoreland Place nursing home.  Kali Jo Craiglow pleaded guilty to a single count of patient abuse, a fourth-degree felony. The prosecution requested a 14-month sentence and asked the judge to consider victim impact statements.

The investigation revealed that the female victim was found with injuries and tears to her clothing, as well as with a bloody pillowcase on the floor of her room, after Craiglow, who was a nursing assistant, had been in her room. The police report noted Craiglow had claimed the victim had been belligerent toward her and calling her names. Two of three residents questioned reported being abused by the same CNA.