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Could Robots Behind the CVS Pharmacy Counter Be Making Prescription Mistakes?

Galvin B. Kennedy
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Partner at Kennedy Hodges LLP practicing personal injury, pharmacy error, and overtime law

Most people trust the pharmacist to fill their prescriptions correctly. But what if you found out that a pharmacist wasn’t putting the pills in your bottle? Pharmacy technicians have been filling prescriptions at CVS pharmacies for a number of years, and now robots could be filling prescriptions at your local pharmacy.

Why Does This Matter to You?

Unfortunately, 1.3 million people annually are injured because they are given the wrong medication. According to the FDA, about one person every day dies as a result of the wrong medication. While there are many reasons wrong medications get into the hands of consumers, one of those reasons is because large pharmacy chains use robots.

The robot serves as the pharmacy technician and pharmacist by:

  • Counting pills
  • Filling prescriptions
  • Putting the pills into the bottle

While robots help increase the productivity of the pharmacy because the machines can fill prescriptions faster than humans, there is a cause for concern. Dr Ghussin, owner of Heartland Pharmacy, said, “It does help out in the terms of counting and filling fast, but it’s a nightmare in maintaining it and preventing it from erring.”

The problem with robots is that they could be filling prescriptions with the wrong medication and not even know it. For example, if a pharmacy technician put the wrong pills into the machine for the robot to use, the robot won’t just fill one prescription incorrectly, but it will fill a whole batch of prescriptions with the wrong medication before a human catches the mistake and fixes it.

This means that not only can one patient suffer the consequences of receiving the wrong medication, but many customers may be harmed as a result of a robot prescription error.

While pharmacists should still use their own eyes and hands to review each pill bottle before they leave the pharmacy, sometimes pharmacists are too busy to give their full attention to the pills inside each bottle they check. While many people and some studies have indicated that pharmacy robots should help reduce medication errors, there is the chance when a mistake happens for it to affect many people instead of just one patient.

If your CVS pharmacy uses automated dispensing machines or robots, it is always a good idea to check your pills before trusting a robot or pharmacist with your health and well-being. You may also want to help others realize the possible robot dangers at their pharmacy by sharing this article on Facebook.