A computer glitch during a transition of a former Ritzman Pharmacy location in Akron is being blamed for some patients not getting their prescriptions over a four-day period.
In some cases, the lack of medication caused medical concerns, including one hospitalization and one cancellation of a surgery, said Dr. Waleed Nemer, the president of the Summit County Medical Society and an independent internal medicine physician.
Medina-based Ritzman Pharmacy was purchased by CVS in January. CVS said it was closing all but three locations in Akron at 1323 Copley Road and locations in Berlin and Shreve, which would be converted to CVS locations. The other 16 Ritzman locations began closing in mid-January and records were sent to nearby CVS locations. A Ritzman Pharmacy in partnership with and located on the NEOMED campus in Rootstown will be rebranded and entirely owned by the medical school, effective April 1.
CVS Health spokesman Michael DeAngelis said the disruption arose Monday and was resolved by late Tuesday after the weekend transition of the Copley Road location to CVS. The pharmacy was closed over the weekend, though pharmacists were there to direct patients to other nearby CVS locations, he said.
“On Monday, the pharmacy experienced a temporary disruption of its ability to accept electronic prescriptions. The issue was resolved and as of [Wednesday morning] the pharmacy is able to accept those prescriptions. The pharmacy contacted the doctors of patients whose e-prescriptions were not available … and also provided a 72-hour supply of medication to patients who had previously filled their prescription. We apologize for any inconvenience,” DeAngelis said.
But Nemer said he and at least two other local physicians whose patients use the Copley Road location were not contacted by the pharmacy concerning the prescription issues.
It is the medical society’s role to make sure that patients’ medical care by providers is not compromised in any way, he said.
Nemer said he saw two patients on Monday — a husband and wife — who were not able to get their prescription medications from the Copley Road CVS location. Nemer said their medications were a refill and a new prescription for eye drops that were needed for five days before cataract surgery scheduled for Friday.
“There are quite a bit of patients who fell through the cracks” as a result of the computer glitch, Nemer said.
In his patient’s case, “she missed out on her blood pressure medication and thyroid medication. She just didn’t take it. When the patient came to the office, she said ‘I have a headache and my blood pressure is high.’ It was 210/110,” said Nemer. When he asked what happened to her medication, she said she was unable to get it and she missed several days and wasn’t able to get it because of a computer problem.
As a patient who had a coronary bypass and who was on blood thinners, “this is not somebody who we want them to have them skip their medication, not even for one day,” said Nemer. The patient was sent directly to the hospital, said Nemer, who said she had other health issues as well.
Her husband’s cataract surgery was canceled since he did not have the needed medicated eye drops in time, Nemer said.
Nemer said he was surprised when he heard of the prescription issues from his patients and called the pharmacy Monday.
The pharmacist said the problem had been going on for several days and suggested Nemer move to hand-written prescriptions. Nemer said not all patients have time or the means to go to the doctor’s office for a prescription and then to a pharmacy.
“I told the pharmacist ‘If it was you or me — and I may know better — and I would go there and demand I get my medication. Some of these older patients have no one," Nemer said.
DeAngelis said patients who filled prescriptions at any Ritzman can use any CVS.
The Berlin Ritzman location made the transition to CVS on March 1 without any issues, DeAngelis said. Shreve will transfer Thursday.
Beacon Journal consumer columnist and medical reporter Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or email@example.com. Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/BettyLinFisherABJ and see all her stories at www.ohio.com/topics/linfisher.