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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Why Are We In Such a Hurry?

  That's the question for this post. Why are we in such a hurry all the time? Somehow we have been brain-washed into the mentality of "fill it quick"! Why does a prescription have to be filled so fast? Well, some might say its because the patient is waiting and they don't feel well. OK, I can sympathize with the not feeling well patient, but how long did they spend at the doctor's office? I can bet it was more than 5, 10 or even 15 minutes, so I'm not really buying that one. Others will say, that the sooner they get their meds the sooner they will feel better.That is such a load of crap! Most "sick" patients are getting antibiotics which, I believe I remember from school, don't work instantly. Yes, these patients may be getting cough syrup or anti-nausea meds which will make them "feel better" but a few extra minutes of suffering isn't going to kill them. A miss-fill just might! The other patients are the ones in pain. I agree, they need pain relief, but honestly when you're hurting badly enough the prescription could be filled in record time and it wouldn't matter. In that situation, five minutes fells like an hour. The sick or in pain patients I really do sympathize with but why do we rush ourselves with the prescriptions for chronic meds or refills? I have actually seen pharmacists and techs in such "hurry-up mode" that they were out of breath! AND THEY WERE WORKING ON REFILLS THAT HAD BEEN PHONED IN!! There is something seriously screwed-up with that. How did we get to this point?
  I believe that this "hurry-up" mentality has seriously undermined the credibility of this profession. We complain about our patients having a fast-food attitude with us, but we encourage that very attitude every time we rush to get a prescription filled just because the patient complains about our wait-time or threatens to go somewhere else. We cave in, no one forces us to! Why is that? Is it because we know we can speed it up if we need to? Are we afraid they will go somewhere "faster"? We have been pressured by the patient and our employers to work faster and faster. And, like the good little worker-bees that we are, we have complied, but at what cost? There is a price paid for this by the patient and the employer if there is a miss-fill, we all know that, but considering the volume we do that is really rare. But, if you really think about it, we pay a price every day, every hour and every minute that we press ourselves to perform faster and do more. Our profession pays a price in respect and image when we become so performance oriented. It needs to stop!!
  With all of that said, I personally maintain a wait-time of under 10 minutes on average. I can do this without the stress of being in a rush for the most part because I have trained my staff to be efficient rather than fast! I have worked in high and low volume stores and I can say I have never felt rushed or over-whelmed. I maintain efficiency by not allowing things like cell-phone, facebook, twitter, blogging, e-mail or long personal phone calls  to steal my time. I'm there to work not to socialize and I'm sure my employer agrees. I see pharmacists that waste their time on stuff like this and then wonder why they are so far behind. They usually try to blame it on not having enough staff or they try to blame it on  the staff. That's usually when I drop the bomb of being able to breakdown the wait-time indices to see where the delay has occurred. I've also gone so far as to watch security videos to see who is doing what and when. That's sneaky but sometimes necessary. After all, I work with the same techs as all my other pharmacists to so I know what is possible if we just stay focused. Do you remember freshman chemistry when they taught us about the rate-limiting step in a chemical reaction? Well, I've always thought of the pharmacist as the rate-limiting factor in filling a prescription. Nothing can leave the pharmacy until it passes through me (our work-flow makes it pass through us twice), so I control how fast or slow things get done. When I am steady and unstressed so are my staff members. That trickles down into their demeanor with the customers. How the customers are treated ultimately results in a better experience for them, they are willing to wait for their prescription and they are more willing to return. So building our business is not all about speed (which some say equals convenience).
  So, my friends, slow down, take a breath (or bathroom break)  and enjoy yourselves. Be at peace and create a peaceful atmosphere by not rushing yourself or your staff. They will love you for it, they will enjoy their work and your patients will be well taken care of and want to return. Just remember: YOU ARE IN CONTROL!!

Monday, October 25, 2010


  My last post was about my getting robbed at my store. Apparently, Opana ER is the new Oxycontin out on the streets. I thought I was up-to-date on that stuff but this one slipped by me. I guess because I refuse to stock Oxycontin, I was unaware of the change over to a new marking on the tablets that make them not as valuable on the streets. Its just too bad that Opana has to have such a unique shape. There are times when I wish all drugs were "round, white pills". Other times I don't. Like when patients don't know the names of their drugs or why they take them.
  Anyway, you would not believe the grief I'm getting for how I handled the robbery. Everyone has an opinion about what I should have done. It ranges from knocking the guy over the head with something to refusing to hand over the goods to telling him that I didn't have what he was asking for. I had one person say that the pharmacists are the problem and that if we didn't give up the drugs so easily there wouldn't be so much junk on the streets. All I have to say to that person is that the next time someone robs me I'll give the robber their address and tell him they have plenty of what he wants! I'm really! Why in God's name would I risk my life for an inanimate object? I hope I'm worth more to this world alive than the drug is with me dead. And what exactly was I supposed to hit this guy over the head with? My spatula perhaps? Telling a lie about what I have in stock isn't real brilliant either considering the doors to my "safe" are glass and all the guy had to do is look for himself.
  Luckily, my company says I handled it by the book. In fact they say I could write a training program on how to handle robberies. So, for once they're on my side.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Bringing a Knife to a Gunfight

So, I have to pass this on to my colleagues. My pharmacy was robbed today at "note-point". That's right, I got the standard note handed to me. It was  full of misspelled words and grade-school grammar. It went something like this: Give me all your Opana 40's. If you don't I'll be shooting you... That's all the further I needed to go. I saw what he wanted and the threat made. It was, however, a funny thing that the note said he would be "shooting" me, but the dude didn't have a gun. He had a knife. It was a rather large knife, but still how does one "shooting" anything  with a knife? Obviously, he had not attended the Pharmacy Robbery 101 class that is given by the local crack cooker. And Opana? Really? I asked if that was all he wanted and he said yes. No other drugs, no other strength and no cash. Weird. I gave him what he wanted and had my tech call 911 while I waited on the next customer. The show must go on, right?
Seriously, it was a bad, scary experience. If it's never happened to you then thank God everyday. My advise to all those who have not had this experience is to be prepared. Rehearse what you would do and how you would act before it happens.  Think like a hopped-up on crack, desperate criminal to think of things that could happen.  And I know you all  know this but it can't be said enough: Don't be a hero! For the most part, these drugs do not belong to you so who cares if they are stolen. If you own your own store, then the insurance will cover your loss. I would rather file a claim for inventory loss than have my spouse file a claim on my life insurance.  Also, if your company offers counseling, don't be too proud to accept it. We often have to put up a brave face in front of our fellow workers so a counselor can give you an opportunity to vent. I love my job and I don't want to be frightened every time I have to work. Post-traumatic stress can be mild to severe even if no one was injured. Its your perception of danger that causes the stress no one else's. More than ever before we are on the front-lines of the illegal drug trade. If some one's doctor decides to cut-off their drug supply for whatever reason these people can and will become desperate. Desperate economic times will tip the balance of those on the edge of the illegal drug trade. They may try stuff that normally would be off limits to them. Anything is possible. So stay safe. I'm going to take a bubble bath!