How to avoid common pharmacy medication errors

Pharmacists play a key role in ensuring patients get the correct prescription medications. Pharmacies generally have a process in place to detect and prevent most medication errors. However, the reality is that mistakes can and do occur, leaving patients vulnerable to the risk of serious injuries. For example, drugs with similar-sounding names can get mixed up, or they can react adversely with other medications.

According to research published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, pharmacy dispensing errors account for more than 20 percent of prescription errors that affect patients. Fortunately, there are several steps patients can take to ensure they stay safe and leave the pharmacy with the right medications.

Many prescription errors arise due to lack of communication between the patient and pharmacist. Medication instructions and labels can sometimes be difficult to understand. As a result, you should make sure to ask your pharmacist any questions you have. Find out when and how to take the drug, the correct dosage, whether it is safe to take with other medications or supplements, and if side effects are likely.

Ask for information about your medicines in simple, straightforward terms that you can easily understand. Patients should also ensure the pharmacist is aware of any allergic or adverse reactions that certain drugs have triggered in the past.

Using the same pharmacy for all prescriptions can also help reduce the risk of errors. When picking up medication from the pharmacy, check that it is the correct drug and matches the doctor’s prescription. By being more proactive with your health care, you are more likely to stay safe from prescription errors.

If you have suffered injuries due to pharmaceutical negligence, contact the personal injury lawyers at Joyce & Reyes. We can help you pursue compensation.

Brandon woman sentenced to 12 years in prison for operating pill mill

The owner of Family Medical Express Center Inc. in Brandon, Florida received a federal prison sentence of 12 years and 7 months for illegally using her medical clinic as a pill mill. Her co-conspirators handed out prescriptions of almost 6,000 Xanax pills and over 28,000 oxycodone pills.

Yolanda Camara, 49, pleaded guilty to drug conspiracy, drug distribution and lying to federal investigators. Her money judgment ordered by the court as proceeds of her offenses was a total of $124,285.64. This was not her first arrest; she previously committed a grand theft crime.

The Drug Enforcement Administration and the St. Petersburg Police Department investigated the case. Assistant United States Attorney Daniel George took the case to court.

Camara worked alongside her co-conspirators to sell illegal prescriptions to people who came in not needing the medications. In addition, Camara sold prescriptions to people who then sold the drugs per pill on the street.

One of the medical clinic doctors, Anil Sahijwani, wrote prescriptions as directed by Camara for people he had not met or examined as well fictitious people. Dr. Sahijwani was sentenced to federal prison for 3 years and 9 months.

In total, six people were prosecuted in this pill mill case.

Physician sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to pill mill conviction

On February 23, 2017, Dr. Anil Sahijwani pled guilty for illegally prescribing oxycodone, Adderall and other drugs. The Florida Department of Health rescinded the medical license of the 43-year-old doctor after he was sentenced to 45 months in federal prison.

Sahijwani’s practice was at Family Medical Express Center, Inc. located in Brandon, Florida. He and some of his co-workers prescribed controlled substances to people who did not require them. These people took the medication and sold it to others in the community as single pills.

The Drug Enforcement Administration investigated the situation, discovering that Sahijwani had given prescriptions to people he had not even met, as directed by his co-conspirators. He also allegedly prescribed oxycodone from his car in a parking lot in Tampa.

Lori Ellis, a real estate worker in an office across the street, said, “We saw people from behind our building going over there and then coming out, screaming, ranting and raving, their arms shaking, that they wouldn’t give them their drugs. That they had paid them money but wouldn’t give them their drugs.”

Sahijwani illegally wrote prescriptions for more than 18,000 oxycodone pills.

DEA Special Agent in Charge Adolphus P. Write says, “As law enforcement addresses the ongoing opioid crisis, it is unconscionable that a physician would be part of the Pill Mill problem that has left its indelible mark on the Tampa area and the country. DEA, and our law enforcement partners, will remain vigilant in finding these unscrupulous medical professionals and clinics and see to it that they are prosecuted accordingly.”

The Court demanded that Sahijwani surrender his DEA registration number on top of $182,266.66 and the value of his Porsche. The U.S. Department of Justice claims that this amounts to his earnings from illegal activity.

Florida pill mill operator sentenced to six years in prison

A Florida “pill mill” operator was sentenced to six years in federal prison, after prosecutors said he made “exceptional” efforts to help investigators, which led to convictions of other people involved in illegal distribution of prescription drugs.

Pasquale Gervasio who helped run pain clinics in Florida, which were raided in 2011, pleaded guilty to a money-laundering conspiracy. Between March 2010 and June 2011, the clinics distributed over two million doses of oxycodone, a highly addictive painkiller.

Gervasio was facing up to 10 years in prison, but prosecutors recommended his sentence be reduced after he provided help to the prosecution. Their recommendation was followed by U.S. District Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley. Earlier this year, Gervasio provided testimony against his former business partner Richard McMillan, at his trial on state charges. McMillan was convicted and is serving a 35-year sentence in state prison for racketeering and drug trafficking.

Gervasio and McMillan ran a chain of pain clinics known as Total Medical Express. Gervasio provided information to prosecutors and law enforcement that led to arrests and convictions. He also agreed to pay restitution of about $1.6 million. According to court records, he has already turned over funds in excess of $600,000.

The illegal distribution of prescription drugs can cause severe harm to individuals who may be suffering from addiction. Operators of pill mills, in addition to being criminally prosecuted, may face civil lawsuits for money damages filed by people harmed by their actions. Anyone who has been injured because of improper prescription or distribution of medication should contact an attorney to learn more about their rights.

Jury convicts Florida man for ‘pill mill’ operation

A jury convicted a Florida man of 11 felony charges for running a pain clinic that prosecutors called a “pill mill.”

Richard McMillan refused a plea deal of 10 years in prison. He took the stand in his own defense, arguing that his network of pain clinics was a legitimate business. After nine hours of deliberation, the jury convicted him on all counts.

McMillan ran a chain of clinics called Total Medical Express with his business partner Pasquale Gervasio before a statewide drug task force raided the clinics in 2011. Officials from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration said that the clinics, which operated in several locations in Florida, are estimated to have generated almost $13.5 million, by issuing prescriptions and distributing oxycodone to people without proper medical reasons.

McMillan is scheduled to be sentenced by Circuit Judge Cheryl Caracuzzo on the convictions of racketeering, conspiracy and nine counts of oxycodone trafficking. He could face between 25 years and 330 years in prison. In his defense, McMillan and his attorneys said that the clinics did not issue prescriptions to everyone who asked, claiming that 1,274 patients were discharged without being treated.

In addition to facing criminal charges, medical providers may be liable for pharmaceutical negligence if they cause injury to patients by improperly prescribing or distributing medication. If you or a loved one was injured due to a medical mistake or misconduct, contact Joyce & Reyes for a free consultation.

Florida man sentenced in pill mill case

A Florida man was sentenced to 44 months in prison and three years of supervised release for unlawfully operating a pill mill in Georgia that made over $1.8 million.

Marc Frazier was also ordered to give up assets of more than $500,000 from the pill mill. The “pain management clinic” known as Apex Health & Wellness was owned by Frazier from November 2011 to April 2013. Prosecutors said that customers received prescriptions for controlled substances when there was no valid medical purpose, often paying up to $300 in cash to the clinic for the prescriptions.

Frazier hired medical doctor Paul Ruble to work at the clinic. Ruble is awaiting sentencing on similar charges after pleading guilty.

According to authorities, during the 17 months that the clinic operated, an average of 30 patients per day received prescriptions for alprazolam and oxycodone. Prosecutors said that more than 400 deposits were made to the pain clinic’s bank account, totaling over $1.8 million.

In addition to facing criminal charges, medical providers who prescribe drugs improperly and cause patients harm may face civil liability in the form of a lawsuit for pharmaceutical negligence. Anyone who has been injured by a pill mill or an error made by a doctor or pharmacist should consult with an attorney.

Two Florida doctors to begin serving pill mill sentences

Two Florida doctors must begin serving their prison sentences in October, three years after their convictions on money laundering charges related to a chain of Florida pill mills, a federal judge ruled.

Cynthia Cadet must turn herself in to begin serving a 6 1/2 year sentence on Oct. 3, while Joseph Castronuovo was given until Oct. 18 to begin serving his 18-month sentence, because he needs medical treatment. Both had been free on bond since their convictions in July 2013, but U.S. District Judge Kenneth Mara ruled that they must report to prison.

Castronuovo and Cadet were among 32 individuals, including several doctors, who were charged in a large pill mill indictment, targeting a chain of pain management clinics that improperly distributed prescription pain pills such as oxycodone. Castronuovo and Cadet were the only physicians to fight the charges. A Florida jury found the doctors not guilty of most of the counts against them, but guilty of a money laundering conspiracy related to the payments they received for their work at the clinics.

Castronuovo was paid over $160,000 and Cadet was paid over $1.2 million. The two were hired after responding to ads on Craigslist. The doctors signed documents each week before receiving their pay that stated that they did not witness anything illegal take place.

In addition to criminal charges, doctors, pharmacists and others who improperly distribute medications can face civil charges for the harm that they cause. Anyone injured by pharmaceutical negligence should contact an attorney to learn about their rights. You may be entitled to compensation.

Tampa area pill mill doctor sentenced to prison

On May 23, a federal judge sentenced Edward Feldman, age 76, to 25 years in federal prison. As a doctor, he improperly prescribed pain medications to addicts in his Tampa area clinic, leading to three patient deaths, a jury found.

U.S. District Judge James D. Whittemore told Feldman, “You became a drug pusher,” and said he would have the rest of his life “to think about that.” Ahead of Feldman’s sentencing hearing, he was facing a minimum of 20 years in prison and up to life. Talks between the judge and attorneys lowered the maximum to 30 years, but the minimum was set by statute.

Feldman asked the judge to show mercy in sentencing his wife, Kim Feldman, 66, who was scheduled to be sentenced after him. Ms. Feldman managed her husband’s office and was facing a possible sentence of between 15 and 19 years in prison, but her attorney had asked for probation.

After a 17-day trial in February, both Feldmans were convicted of multiple counts in a conspiracy that involved prescribing drugs outside of legitimate medical purposes. Feldman also relinquished his medical license in February.

Doctors and pain clinics and pharmacies found to have caused injury to patients through improper prescriptions can also be held accountable through civil lawsuits. Anyone who has been injured or lost a loved one as a result of pharmaceutical negligence should contact Joyce & Reyes for a free consultation.

Tampa Bay area pill mill doctor and wife convicted on drug charges

A Tampa doctor who practiced in Pinellas Park, and his wife, were convicted of federal drug conspiracy charges, for prescribing oxycodone and other medications that a jury found led to three patient deaths.

Dr. Edward Neil Feldman, a 76-year-old orthopedist, and his wife Kim Feldman, were both convicted on five related counts in a case that involved $5.7 million worth of medication and three deaths from drug overdoses. They both face time in prison, but only the doctor was charged in the deaths of the patients.

Feldman argued that patients gave him false information to fool him into prescribing drugs, but federal prosecutors said that Feldman willfully ignored warning signs. The Feldmans were ordered taken into custody with sentencing scheduled for May 23.

The doctor had been linked to more patient deaths than the three that were the subject of the case. According to news reports, Feldman’s name was on pill bottles found at multiple overdose scenes. Out of the jury’s hearing, the federal prosecutor told the judge that the government had 16 deaths to choose from in making its case.

Prescribing dangerous or inappropriate medication can constitute pharmaceutical negligence, whether it is in the context of an unethical pill mill or a doctor or pharmacy error. In addition to the criminal charges faced by pill mill operators, civil lawsuits may be filed by patients or their loved ones who are injured by such negligence.

Florida pill mill shut down, 11 arrested

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced that an alleged Florida pill mill has been shut down. The closing of Swain Medical Center followed a multi-year investigation by authorities. Eleven people were arrested in connection with the case, and one remains at large.

According to authorities, the pill mill filled fraudulent prescriptions for over one million doses of pain medication, including oxycodone and hydromorphone. The highly addictive prescription pain pills have an estimated street value in excess of $16 million, authorities said.

Authorities said that the defendants used unlicensed medical workers as well as doctors to issue fraudulent prescriptions for medications that were then sold throughout South Florida. Prescriptions issued by the center were found as far away as Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

The defendants face charges including conspiracy to sell illegal drugs, conspiracy to sell oxycodone, and racketeering. They will be prosecuted by the Office of Statewide Prosecution, part of the Attorney General’s Office. There is a 25-year mandatory minimum prison sentence associated with the drug trafficking conspiracy charges.

People who fraudulently or negligently prescribe medications that cause harm to users may also face civil lawsuits. People who are injured as a result of pharmaceutical negligence may be able to obtain compensation through a lawsuit. Contact Joyce & Reyes for more information.