LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Timika Thomas does not come from a large family. So, as an adult, she decided to make one and had four lovely, healthy children. In 2019, she and her husband decided to have one more.
Progressing into her thirties, Thomas was having trouble getting pregnant. She had two ectopic pregnancies, which led to Thomas having her fallopian tubes removed. And even though they weren’t insured for the costs they would endure, they decided to pay for in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
Doctors sedated Thomas, inserted two eggs inside her body and sent her home with prescriptions, one of which would trick her body into producing enough hormones to kickstart her pregnancy.
“You have to make yourself think it’s pregnant,” Thomas told Nexstar’s KLAS. “We’re taking a lot of supplements to make our bodies think it’s pregnant.”
In previous attempts, Thomas had taken a shot to her buttocks in order to trigger that hormone inside of her, but injecting herself was emotionally trying and she wanted to give her “butt cheek a rest,” she said.
Her doctor prescribed a vaginal suppository in place of the injections. Thomas went to her CVS branch. She took two of her required doses and knew something was wrong.
“I started cramping really bad,” Thomas said.
No stranger to the IVF process, she expected cramping, but this was not the pain she anticipated.
“My cramping went beyond that,” she said. “It was extreme. It was painful.”
Thomas checked the bottle, looked up the name of the prescription on the label, and the results of her internet search began a yearslong process of mourning.
“The first thing I read is it’s used for abortions,” Thomas said.
Documents obtained by Nexstar’s KLAS outline how two technicians and two pharmacists made a series of errors that led to Thomas being given the wrong medication, which essentially terminated her budding pregnancy on the spot.
“They just killed my baby,” she said to herself at the time. “Both my babies, because I transferred two embryos.”
Among the series of mistakes, those documents say one technician – incorrectly believing she knew the generic name for the brand prescribed by the doctor – entered the wrong name into the prescription. One pharmacist did not catch the error, and another pharmacist failed to counsel Thomas when she came to pick up her medication.
“It [the error] would have been caught because then they would have had to have the medicine in their hand,” Thomas said. “And they would have said, ‘Oh, this is Misoprostol or Cytotek, have you taken this before?’ And I would have said ‘no.’ ”
Thomas lodged a complaint with the Nevada State Board of Pharmacy, which met in September. After she gave heartbreaking testimony about her horrifying experience, the two pharmacists were fined and had their licenses suspended provisionally. If both pharmacists avoid disciplinary action over the next 12 months, pay fines, and take continuing education credits, their licenses will be reinstated, according to pharmacy board documents.
CVS, in response to inquiries from KLAS, provided the following statement:
“We’ve apologized to our patient for the prescription incident that occurred in 2019 and have cooperated with the Nevada Board of Pharmacy in this matter. The health and well-being of our patients is our number one priority and we have comprehensive policies and procedures in place to support prescription safety. Prescription errors are very rare, but if one does occur, we take steps to learn from it in order to continuously improve quality and patient safety.”
The pharmacy board fined CVS the maximum amount allowed by statute — $10,000 — for its vicarious liability for the pharmacists’ errors.
At the hearing, the attorney for the retail behemoth distanced his client from its one-time employees.
“To suspend or take action against a pharmacy license when they really didn’t do anything wrong, [it] wasn’t pled they did anything wrong,” the attorney said prior to the board imposing the fine. “The only allegation is that they had these pharmacists.”
Thomas was insulted.
“I felt like that was not okay because he should have [taken] initiative for the company as a whole.”
Both pharmacists apologized.
“It’s a human error,” one pharmacist testified, in between heaving sobs. “It was just a human error and I’m so sorry.”
But sorry barely softens any of the heartache or sorrow Thomas feels even some four years later.
“All I got was a sorry,” she said. “It will never be good enough.”