65-year-old man claims CVS mistake cost him his sight

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by Kevin Reece / KHOU 11 News

WHAS11.com

Posted on June 19, 2014 at 10:29 PM

HOUSTON -- A local man has sued CVS Pharmacy claiming he was blinded in his left eye after a pharmacist mistakenly gave him anti-bacterial ear drops to treat an eye infection.

Claudis Alston, 65, suffers from a variety of ailments including kidney failure. But in 2012, he sought treatment at Houston Methodist Hospital for an eye condition and was diagnosed with pink eye/conjunctivitis. Medical records show he was given a prescription for a common conjunctivitis treatment – cortisporin ophthalmic suspension. He got that prescription filled at a CVS Pharmacy at 12601 Tomball Parkway.

In the lawsuit filed this week, Alston’s attorney displayed the original packaging and instructions that came with the solution CVS gave him. Instead of cortisporin opthalmic suspension, the packing says it contains neomycin-polymyxin-HC. It is a treatment for bacterial ear infections. The packaging identifies it as an “EAR SOLN.” But the instructions say, “INSTILL 3 DROPS IN EACH EYE TWICE DAILY FOR 5 DAYS.”

"Immediately after he instilled the drops he became just beside himself and was like 'this really hurts,” said Alston’s caretaker and legal guardian Jameena Crookshank.

"He was immediately struck with pain and irritation in his eye,” said attorney Randall Sorrels.

Alston said he immediately rushed back to the hospital emergency room. Doctors have confirmed that Alston is now blind in his left eye. Documentation in medical journals and pharmaceutical websites for the ear infection treatment clearly state that someone should never put it in their eyes.

Now Alston’s attorneys are trying to get answers from CVS.

"We've heard nothing back from CVS,” said Sorrels who says they first contacted CVS headquarters in Rhode Island more than two months ago. “This suit was filed the day before yesterday. Maybe you all can get a response from CVS,” he said to reporters at a Thursday afternoon news conference.

KHOU 11 News did receive a response from CVS, but it consisted of just one sentence:

“As this matter involves pending litigation, we are unable to comment.”

"He used to be fully capable of operating day to day on his own,” said Crookshank, who says problems with pain and with depth perception are plaguing Alston now. “And now he looks to me to support him in everything that he does."

"We hope the court system will bring some justice to Mr. Alston,” added Sorrels, who says he has no indication the pharmacist in question was ever reprimanded or retrained after the mistake.

Texas law limits malpractice claims like this, even with the loss of an eye or limb, to a maximum of $250,000. A court date for the lawsuit has not yet been set.

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