When you’re in the hospital, there are a few things you expect. You have a right to expect your nurse to treat you professionally, of course, and you have a right to expect that the medication your doctor orders will actually be given to you.
What no one expects is that they’ll receive a lower dosage on their medicine than the doctor prescribed and that this will be done intentionally. Unfortunately, one pharmacist in Ohio stands accused of just that.
A pharmacist employed by the pharmacy at a long term hospital located in Boardman is accused of mixing lower doses of antibiotics than prescribed for high-risk hospital patients.
Ohio’s Board of Pharmacy has suspended Ernest Perrin’s license, saying in a letter the practice could put patients in danger.
According to a notice issued by the board, Perrin has worked at Select Specialty Hospital Regional Pharmacy, which is located in the same Market Street building that houses St. Elizabeth Boardman Hospital.
Select Specialty Hospital is a separate long term care unit within the hospital, and according to a spokesperson from Mercy Health is not affiliated with St. Elizabeth’s and St. Elizabeth’s does not use this pharmacy.
In a letter notifying Perrin that he has been summarily suspended, the board said that he admitted to personally compounding intravenous medication in order to not add the total dose prescribed to the IV for particular dangerous drugs such as Cubicin and Tygacil.
According to the document, Perrin told an agent that he did it to reduce costs.
Perrin not only stands to lose his license permanently but is also of facing misdemeanor charges. Any criminal charges are likely to result in fines rather than jail time, which is unlikely to satisfy some parts of the public.
However, that’s not where the ramifications of this stop.
There’s no mention as to how insurance companies or individuals were billed, though it’s likely they were charged for the higher dose rather than what was received, which now opens the hospital up to potential lawsuits seeking compensation for the overcharges.
While Perrin might have believed he was saving his department money, he may have cost the hospital far more than the few meager dollars his subterfuge could ever have accounted for.
If there is an upside to this fiasco, it’s that Perrin may now serve as a cautionary tale about cutting corners in an effort to save a few bucks and potentially putting people’s lives at risk.
Assuming, of course, that anyone is interested in listening.