Friday, May 30, 2014

Here's a Prank

I'd like to try in the pharmacy waiting room. Of course there's always a worry that there would be an injury and a lawsuit and then someone would get fired.

So how about next Friday? Sounds good.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Answer the Phone, Pill Boy

You might remember the star of the show in "But they FELL into my Cereal..." ~ the story of Mrs. Norco... who needed an entirely new bottle of Norco because a few supposedly fell into her cereal milk. If this is a new story to you, here's the LINK.

Today Mrs. Norco called and asked me to refill her Celebrex. She said her mother was at the Subway next door and it was convenient for her mom to stop and get it since she's close by.

Mrs. Norco then made the very unflattering statement, "You must has been working yesterday. I knows because I done called and the phone just rang and rang and rang. I've been in the store and has seen youse not answer the phone." [misspellings & grammar is hers, not mine]

Both the manager and I have our own policy that when we're alone and overwhelmed with people in line, people at the register, and have waiters for medication, the phone gets sacrificed. 

I replied, "No, Mrs. Norco, I was off yesterday afternoon. We don't answer the phone when we're overwhelmed with business, which must have been the case with Mickey."

"Well I's be needin' my Celebrex. Momma will be in to get it for me."

And since Mrs. Norco thinks she's amazingly observant, let me tell you what I've observed:

Having "momma" come in and get her Celebrex is a monthly occurrence. Mrs. Norco or her husband come by and pick up everything else... but for some reason she sends "momma" in to get the Celebrex. Hmmmm... what could it be? I don't know. MAYBE because it has a $100 co-pay while all her other co-pays are $5?

When  Grandma Norco comes in to get the Celebrex, she pays with her own money. Maybe she does this to help her daughter. I don't know. After her trying to scheme her way into more Norco before, I'm not sure this is all on the up and up.

Another fun day at Goofmart Pharmacy... but when the phone rings, make sure you tell all the people waiting at the register they'll have to wait. It might be Mrs. Norco on the phone.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Trusting The Authorities

Trust for The Authorities is a lot like this:

Here's some whoppers I've heard over the years:

We're doing everything we can to increase technician hours.

We're working hard to get pharmacists a lunch break.

Our number one goal is patient safety.

We appreciate your hard work.

You're being considered for [new position] (when they've already chosen someone)

We need you to fill in at store XXXX, but just until we can get someone to replace you.

And the grand daddy of them all:

You're important to us!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I need YOUR help

Above is a graphical representation I drew of the OTC section in front of the pharmacy. The letters a, b, and c represent the aisles of the OTC section. BUT there are actually no aisle markers above the aisles. The rest of the store have aisle markers, but these three do not. 

Is this an oversight by The Authorities? Perhaps, since there's one more aisle than whole numbers between 5 and 8. Personally I think they are purposely unmarked to force the pharmacist or technician to have to exit the pharmacy and show people where stuff is located.

That doesn't stop us, however, from trying to tell people where to go to get their item, especially if we're busy helping someone else. Over the course of time since this remodel we've encountered something odd about this particular set up without numbers. Let me give you a couple of scenarios.

Scenario 1: What I've designated as c has the pain medications, first aid, and eyeball juices. Suppose someone comes up to the counter and asks, "Where's your Banesin, sonny?" referring to an old name for Tylenol. So how do I answer? "It's on aisle 6 on the right. Aisle 6 is NOT marked, but it is THIS SIDE of 5." And what happens EVERY SINGLE TIME? They go to 5 and start walking down 5, to which I have to call out to them and tell them to come back or just run out there and stop them.

Scenario 2: Someone asks for one of our bowel remedies like Dungsoft. These are on our aisle I've designated as b. Remember, this OTC set up is DIRECTLY in front of the pharmacy, so how do I answer? I say, "It's right here in this CENTER aisle and point to aisle b. And what happens EVERY SINGLE TIME? They go to a or c but not b.

One of the techs takes a different approach. She'll say something like, "Do you see the lip balms on the end of that end cap?" (while pointing to where she's talking about). People will say "Yes," then she'll say, it's down that aisle and to your left. And what happens EVERY SINGLE TIME? They still end up going to the wrong place.

Obviously the easiest thing to fix this problem would be clearly marked lanes, maybe with the a, b, c lettering I've mentioned, or SOMETHING (anything) to help us out. Until then, WHAT on Earth can we do? It's so annoying and aggravating I can't even begin to tell you. What am I missing here? 


Monday, May 26, 2014

Prank shows Corporate Paranoia

A few years ago I had a technician that I loved to tease. She enjoyed a good joke and you know me the prankster. One of the best tricks I played on her was with ThinkGeek's Evil Tron:

It's a little batter-powered device that will make creepy noises at random intervals... not very loud, but just loud enough to be annoying. One of the sounds it will make is a whispering voice that says, "Hey, what are you doing?"

It also has a magnet so you can stick it to something metal. So I bought one and hid it really well in the pharmacy, under a metal shelf under one of our phones. The joke played well and the technician and I had a good laugh over it. I don't remember but I must have turned it off at some point and left it where it was so I could try a different sound at a different place in the future with another technician. 

Time went by and the Evil Tron was long forgotten... one year, two years... a change of technicians... and then one day I come into the pharmacy and the pharmacy manager and an RPM are standing there, staring at something on the counter... the Evil Tron.

A new technician had been doing a deep cleaning and found the device and brought it to the attention of the pharmacy manager who was showing it to the RPM.

"Rose the new technician was cleaning and found this bug. Someone is spying on the pharmacy," said the RPM. I look at the Evil Tron and immediately the memories come back.

I laughed and said, "That's not a bug." Then I tried to explain the story. I tried to flip the switch on the Evil Tron to show them but the battery was long gone.

The RPM, straight-faced, started to put the Evil Tron into a plastic bag.

"Uh, where are you going with that? That's mine."

The RPM, quiet for a moment, finally said, "I'm going to play a joke on someone" and left.

Then at 3am that night I woke up with the thought that somehow I'm under investigation. The "bug" was by the phone, I declared it was mine, it couldn't be turned on... somehow in the middle of the night I convinced myself that the RPM thought I was spying on my own pharmacy and she's taking it to corporate for further examination. In the morning I'll be fired for corporate espionage and out on the street.

Thoughts like that seem very real at 3 am.

So I jump up and find online instructions for the device. I quickly email them to the RPM with my comment, "You'll need these instructions to use the Evil Tron." I also listed the ThinkGeek website where I bought the damn thing. You can find it at this LINK, by the way.

I slept better at that point. I never heard back about the Evil Tron, nor did it get returned to me. My advice to you is to have fun pranking your work mates, but don't use devices that can be mistaken for a "bug" and certainly not with a company as paranoid as Goofmart Pharmacy.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

This is me...

... Tweeting while at work:

Except I usually have a shirt on.


Friday, May 23, 2014

The Authorities Response...

...when we asked them how they expect us to add MTM counseling and increase script count with decreased technician hours:

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Patients Get Specific

If you're a pharmacist or pharmacy technician, this will make perfect sense to you.

People, for whatever reason, feel the need to add extra words to their request or statement. Example:

"Where's the non-drowsy Claritin-D?"

Sometimes they feel the need to stress the "non-drowsy" part of their sentence. And when you try to explain to them that there isn't a drowsy version, they just look at you like you're pulling a fast one on them. I think it might be the power of advertising... a TV ad which tells the views to "Ask for the non-drowsy Zyrtec-D at your pharmacy counter!" so that's exactly what they do. Have we become so dumb-downed in our society that everything must have a clarifying adjective added?

It just sounds stupid on our end. It would be like asking:

"Where's your pain-relieving Tylenol?"

Oh, that's right next to the non-pain-relieving Tylenol.

"Do you have any vitamin-containing supplements?"

Yes, it's on the aisle with the placebo vitamins.

"Where are your sterile band aids?"

We keep them separate from the non-sterile band aids to prevent contamination.

And all this makes perfect sense... until you get this question, which I did yesterday:

"Where's the non-drowsy Benedryl?"

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Dear Doctor and/or Prescriber

Here's a refresher course, because a lot of you need it. Here's what WE need YOU to put on EVERY prescription. It doesn't matter how busy you are or how important you think you are. These are legal requirements:

Thank you for your attention.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

What would YOU do for Nookie?

I have her figured out now. But it wasn't so much fun before then.

We have a patient named Nookie. Bummer of a name, I'm sure. But anyway when Nookie calls and a new tech talks to her things rapidly deteriorate. Nookie has a habit of calling on the phone and asking "Which of my medications is ready?"

Before we had her figured out, we would look on the computer and see that no, none of her prescriptions are "ready." To us that means they're filled and "ready for pick up." But that's not what it means to Nookie. What she really means to ask is, "Which of my medications may be refilled today?" In essence, she means what's "ready" to fill today. So when someone new tells her we don't have anything "ready" she gets mad and demands to talk to the pharmacist, which is usually me.

This has been an issue with every floater or new technician when she calls. Oh, I've tried to tell Nookie our pharmacy terminology which actually makes perfect logical sense but she's not going to change her language for us. So every month if someone answers the phone that doesn't know her it's the same thing all over again.

Here's the worse part. She always calls from the parking lot. She wants to know what could be filled between the time she leaves her car and walks to the pharmacy in the back of Goofmart Grocery. I'm aware of this too and I've felt like telling her that nothing is ready to be filled in five minutes... but then there's that whole written warning thing with The Authorities hanging over my head. So I just fill the scripts as fast as I can. 

I do it for Nookie.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Trust your Instincts

A few years ago I had a patient and his wife that moved into my Goofmart area. I'll call them the Mathers.

Although I'm in a really snooty part of town, the Mathers had "downgraded" from an even snootier part of town. Economic times had hit this very wealthy couple and they were forced to move to what must have felt like the ghetto to them.

Maybe this is universal everywhere, but I have a number of wealthy patients that must have 20mg of Ambien to sleep every night. Mind you, insurance rarely covers this but they don't care and they'll pay cash. It was no different for Mrs. Mather. She was convinced that she needed 20mg of Ambien every night to fall asleep. After confirming with their doctor the first time, I became used to filling the double quantity every month.

A few months passed when Mr. Mather came to the pharmacy with new prescriptions for BOTH of them... Ambien 10mg, #360, 2 QHS. Damn, that's a lot of Ambien. I told Mr. Mather that I wasn't comfortable filling that much Ambien and I would need to confirm with the doctor. He said sure, no problem. I asked him if they were planning to travel in Europe for several months or something. He said no, he just thought getting a high quantity would give them a better price. Times are tough for the Mathers, he said.

I confirmed the quantity with their doctor, a doctor known in our area for catering to the extremely wealthy. He said he didn't have any problem with the quantity. But I still had an odd feeling about it, so when Mr. Mather returned I told him I just was not comfortable filling two scripts for that much Ambien. He said no problem, and took the prescriptions with him.

A few days later I saw a news report that Mr. and Mrs. Mathers had committed suicide in their home in Snootyville. It was not a drug overdose, however. They used other means. When I mentioned the unfortunate news to my pharmacy partner, Mickey said they had come by the pharmacy (when I wasn't there) and brought in two prescriptions for a lot of Ambien. Mickey said he was going to fill them but that the price was more than Mr. Mather could afford even with a quantity discount.

It didn't feel right filling that much Ambien. It felt wrong. As it ended up, I was not a participant in the Mathers' plan to end their lives. I am sorry they felt the need to end it all for whatever reason, especially if it was about money. I don't want to sound rude or uncaring (because I'm not), but I am grateful I was not a part of their suicide. 

My message to you: Trust your instincts. This situation had a lot of red flags that were obvious, especially in hindsight. But at the moment when you don't know everything, rely on your gut. It will help you.