When a Pharmacist’s “moral compass” does not agree with a pt’s medical needs?


Georgia Woman Claims Pharmacist Refused To Fill Prescription For Miscarriage Treatment, ‘Shamed’ Her


A Georgia woman claims that her local Walmart pharmacy refused to fill a prescription to help treat her for a miscarriage, and that the pharmacist on duty “shamed” her when she questioned her about it, WGXA in Macon is reporting.

 Brittany Cartrett claimed on Facebook that she’d recently suffered a miscarriage. Her doctor gave her two options to help her body rid itself of the non-viable fetus: an invasive surgical procedure known as a “D and C,” or a medicine that in some cases can induce abortion.

“After discussion with my Doctor, we decided to go the less invasive route and choose a medicine that I could take at home to help miscarry naturally, especially since my body wants to hold on to the little miracle.”

Brittany’s doctor phoned a prescription for Misoprostol to the Walmart Pharmacy in Midgeville, but was told that the pharmacist on duty would not fill the prescription.

“They WON’T fill it. Not that they CAN’T. But they WON’T.”

Ms. Cartrett and her doctor found another pharmacist to fill the prescription, and she got her medicine without any further complications. But she decided to go to the Walmart pharmacy to see what was the problem with her original prescription.

“I ask [the pharmacist] why they refused to fill the other prescription I had. She looks at me, over her nose and says ‘Because I couldn’t think of a reason why you would need that prescription.’….. Excuse me?! I tell her my reasons for needing it, and she says ‘Well, I don’t feel like there is a reason why you would need it, so we refused to fill it.’”

Macon, Georgia, TV station WGXA picked up on Brittany’s story and decided to investigate.

Because Ms. Cartrett’s claims about the pharmacist are a private medical matter, and patient privacy laws prohibit medical care providers from discussing confidential patient matters with anyone but the patient, WGXA could not independently verify Brittany’s claims.

However, a WGXA reporter was able to speak to a Walmart pharmacist off-camera, who claimed to be aware of the situation but would not comment further.

Georgia law allows for pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions based on their personal beliefs, and has allowed this for at least 15 years, says a law professor who spoke to WGXA. A Walmart spokesperson confirmed that the company also allows its pharmacists to use their discretion when filling prescriptions.

“Our pharmacists fill prescriptions on a case by case basis every day in our stores throughout the country and we encourage them to exercise their professional judgment in doing so.”

Other states have similar laws that allow pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions based on their personal beliefs; however, most of those other states have a clause added to the law requiring the pharmacy to have a backup pharmacist on-call to fill the prescription, so the patient won’t have to go to other pharmacies for their medicine. Georgia’s law does not have such a clause.

Brittany Cartrett doesn’t believe that it’s right for pharmacists to be able to decide on their own which prescriptions they will and will not fill.

“It’s very frustrating because who is the pharmacist to make that decision?”

Do you believe the Georgia pharmacist acted within her rights when she refused to fill a prescription? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

17 Responses

  1. If pharmacists do not want to fill legitimate prescriptions for people in need of the medicine, they should find another job. If I want religious advice I will go to a house of worship. I don’t need people shoving their particular beliefs at sick people.

  2. EVERYTHING in the pharmacy is against nature. If you really believe that GOD is in control of your life then he gave you cancer, diabetes, a bladder infection, Ebola, diverticulits, cerebral palsy, or that pesky car accident. Why did you go into a profession that is in direct opposition to your personal beliefs? God gave that infant pinworms and who are you to go and cure it?

  3. I tend to feel if you are in the profession of healthcare, sure things happen that you personally may not agree with, (ie animal research, stem cell research, selective reduction in multiple pregnancies…another form of abortion, pro life issues, assisted suicide, etc) and If you have huge issues to where you feel you have to push those issues onto your patients then you shouldn’t be in healthcare, find another profession. Personal beliefs should be just that…Personal….check them at the door of your job…or find an employer such as a Catholic Hospital that fit belief system. I’d like to see where these “Moral RPhs” will be if assisted suicide ever gets to the point of being passed in more states then the 2 or 3 its legal in now…..How many “pharmacy crawls’ will we hear about in those cases?

    • So you’re saying it’s ok for an institution to enforce its beliefs on its patients and practitioners? That’s asinine. The reality is healthcare is comprised of many individuals who make decisions every day based on exactly what you say “should be checked at the door”. They should be free to do so without compromise.

      Individual practitioners should be entitled to practicing individually and their personal beliefs should be protected and respected as well. The patient needs to find a practitioner who supports their belief system unless the case in an emergency and the patients life is at risk at which point it would not be feasible to do so.

      This is exactly what happened in this story. The patient found another pharmacist who supports the belief system that both her and her physician share. The problem is that the she, along with the general public, does not respect pharmacists because they tend to be soft and not stand for their beliefs which is why she questioned it, went to the news, and made this a “story”.

      • If they wanna practice their individual rights, then sure… as long as they own that place. If they have a problem doing their job they can be replaced.

        Don’t work at a place which has a policy in contradiction to your personal beliefs. Plain and simple.

        • This is why RFRA was and is dangerous where it exists becuse it llows for discrimination. In Indianas original version it really eft wide open a door to discriminate against a specific set of people (not very 14th amendment ish is it) Anyway, in the states that allow this, a woman can be denied birth control, Plan B, condoms if shes under 18 or he- Or at some point some bigots gonna get ballsy and refuse to save someone due to religious difference or ‘personal beief’ .. There is seperation of church and state for a reason, and the Tea Party is trying like hell to knock it down. Its christian sharia to impose your relgion on others.

      • So the pharmacist’s personal and religious beliefs are more important than the patient’s? WHY did they become a pharmacist instead of a preacher? I don’t see many pharmacists objecting to people getting Erectile Dysfunction drugs, as the catholic church PAYS for those and not birth control or PLAN B. Everyone knows it is easier to take bullets out of a gun rather than wearing a bulletproof vest.

    • 100% agree boilerrph87. All healthcare you will face situations you might make different decisions for yourself. When its your patient, its about them not you. Thats the do no harm..part of it anyway. I dont need or expect a moral lecture from my pharmacist. I might from my Dr if it affected my health. But I wouldnt expect or tolerate refusal of treatment for personal belief differences from either one if it was within the law, their expertise and a viable medical option/procedure. If its a procedure I pay for and youre hospital/clinic does, someones doing the surgery. They tell you early in any medical profession schooling to decide how you feel about abortion, euthanasia, etc because there will be times you think youlll know how you feel and it will be different.

  4. It’s not just Georgia. I used to work at a Walmart Pharmacy in Alabama, and some of the pharmacists I worked under would not sell the Plan B pill, but some would. They claimed it went against their beliefs to sell something that would induce an abortion, (which it doesn’t)… This was before it was sold OTC as it is now…

  5. Doctors also refuse to take on patients on their service. It happens.

    • Doctors are not RETAILERS. Pharmacies are. There is one very big difrerence.

    • I am interpreting from the article it was probably her OB who wrote the script since the decision was made not to do the invasive D&C in the hospital and she was already in the middle of the miscarriage. And she stated from her history she had a previous live birth.

  6. If a woman obviously pregnant came to me with a Rx for this, u would most likely object. I would not be pompous and self righteous. I would explain my objections and would refer the patient to someone who views this issue differently.

  7. I do not see a problem filling it but does anyone realize that the bottle contains 60 capsules and is to be dispensed as a full unit? States it must be dispensed in its original container. Just saying that there may be other sides to the story

  8. Steve, what type of medicine is Misoprostol?

    • It was first brought to market as the brand name Cytotec and was to be used to complement the use of NSAID and help protect the GI tract from GI bleds. One thing that was later discovered was that it produces uterine contractions in females..

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