Monday, October 8, 2012

Quake and Zap

You would think that a pharmacist is pretty busy, right?  Yeah, we really are.  In fact, we're VERY busy.  But that doesn't stop corporate from adding to our list of things to do.  From medication therapy management to insane training videos we have to watch yearly to flu shots and flu shot clinics and everything else, yeah, we're DAMN busy.

Keeping track of the inventory is a really good idea, and no one with a business degree will argue with that.  Keeping an accurate inventory is a really good idea in terms of cost accounting and inventory control.  And in terms of tax accounting, estimating your inventory is not only a legal requirement but prudent.  But the time to actually count every tablet would be extremely time consuming, however.  It's a good thing that there are brilliant people to figure all this out for us, though.

Some corporate muckity-muck who has obviously never stepped into a pharmacy decided he had a great idea on how to address just that issue utilizing the three things he knew each pharmacist had: a computer with a scanner, a technician with absolutely nothing to do, and an inventory.  It was then that Quake-N-Zap was born.  This is how it works:

A special DOS program (we only utilize the latest in computer programming technology at our pharmacy) is executed which prints a listing of barcodes representing 10%, 20%, 30%, etc. all the way to 100%.  Then the tech or pharmacist scans a bottle of inventory, THEN shakes, quakes, and does a little magic dance to estimate how much is left in the bottle, be it 10%, 20%, etc., and then scans that barcode, hence the QUAKE-n-ZAP!  This is done multiple times until the tech either dies of boredom or it gets busy again.  Usually this means about 50 zaps.  THEN the computer compares what was scanned to the inventory on hand, and if it is off by a certain percentage, it updates the inventory on hand...

But here's where it gets insane.  No one can accurately "estimate" how much is left in the bottle to any degree of accuracy, so we end up mostly only zapping full bottles.  EVEN THEN, the computer gets it wrong about 30% of the time, updates the inventory with a wrong number, and now the computer inventory is WORSE than when you started.  At that point you have to go back into the computer inventory and pull up all the items it changed and change them back to the correct number you had on hand to begin with, and that doubles the time you spent on this amazing endeavor.

Brilliant, wouldn't you say?  For a while it was a corporate request.  Now it's a corporate mandate and if you don't do a certain number of zaps every period you get a nasty email, a mean phone call, and then a warning.  Get enough warnings and then you go on double secret probation.  After that you get taken out behind the pharmacy and whipped with a switch.

Oh, no one likes this Quake-N-Zap system.  NO ONE.  But don't try to complain.  Complainers go through the same warning, probation, whipping system.  One time I even tried to suggest maybe we try what ABC pharmacy was doing.  What happens there?  Every week a list of 20 drugs prints out.  You do a physical count of those 20 drugs (every tablet, capsule, troche, suppository, whatever) and compare to what the computer has and adjust as necessary.  No estimating -- this is exact counting.  After 52 weeks you've updated the inventory on a continual basis.  And it takes much less time.  BUT don't try to suggest this superior way of handling the inventory to my company.  I was beat down immediately.  "Don't you know that we're NOT ABC company?" I was told.  No, I really thought we were the same company.  Duh.  Besides, I'm sure that muckity-muck got a bonus or a raise or a pat on the back for his brilliant Quake-N-Zap idea and we wouldn't want him to look bad, would we?


Unknown said...

That is one of the stupidest things I have ever heard! Quake-n-Zap! Haha! Gave me a great laugh.

Mary said...

How often do the bottles arrive absolutely full? Some of them start out with the right # of pills, but it only fills the container about 3/4...what then!!!

Sparta said...

Until this very post I had a tremendous amount of sympathy for you. You have an advanced degree yet none of you educated professionals can band together in order to tell the emperor he is wearing no clothes????
Did they take away your spines and cut off your nuts when they handed you your sign on bonus checks? You all ought to be ashamed of yourselves for selling yourselves happily into corporate slavery.. Seems there really is no hope for humanity

Anonymous said...

I know I'm commenting a bit after this was posted, but I'm just now reading it. I must say that I thought you, CrazyRxMan, had been a pharmacist for quite some time. And you can't accurately estimate the number of "pills" (tablets/capsules/etc) in a bottle by shaking? Long before I quit being a Pharmacist, I was very good at this, probably because I primarily worked without any techs. (Long story I'll tell you sometime.) When I went to pull a med off the shelf, if it were a partial bottle, I would shake it to determine if I needed to grab another bottle so I wouldn't have to waste time & effort going back to get another one. Knowing the size of the pills, I got to where I could pretty accurately judge the number in the bottle by shaking (10, 20, 25, etc). I was also very good at estimating by sight. I once guessed the number of gumballs in a large glass container just by passing by it a couple of times. I was only off by about 4 or 5 (don't remember which). Pretty impressive, huh!! The things practicing Pharmacy can teach you. I can also throw things into the garbage can halfway across the room & hardly ever miss, as well as being able to open almost any stuck top on a jar or bottle from the grocery store, etc. Just pat me on the back & put me back to bed! LOL