Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Is NOW a Good Time for a Flu Shot?

If you're a pharmacist or technician, you hear it all the time. "Is now a good time for a flu shot?" they will ask.

The answer is NO.

Let's analyze the day:

9am ~ I just opened and I have a crap load of reports and labels to print for the day. Plus all the Oxycodone addicts are lining up waiting for their "do not fill until [today's date]" prescriptions to magically appear. Now is not a good time.

10am ~ The first tech arrives and starts in on the labels. People start filtering in from physician offices. Now is not a good time.

11am ~ The fax machine has started spitting out physician scripts at an alarming rate. Sick people are waiting for their medications to be filled and the order has arrived. We have yesterday's orders to fill and waiters. Now is not a good time.

12pm ~ People are rushing in to the pharmacy to pick up their prescriptions on their lunch break and immediately after we check them out we hear the "Oh, and I need XXXX filled." Plus we're still working on today's drug order. Now is not a good time.

1pm ~ Physicians are done with their lunch (they get a lunch) and now they're faxing and e-Scripting over a whole new batch of prescriptions to fill. People are lining up at the pick up window because "My doctor said it would be ready when I got here." Now is not a good time.

2pm ~ All the people who saw their physician after lunch are now running to the pharmacy with scripts in hand, expecting them to be filled in five minutes or less, and they're not happy about that... even though Wagmart across the street has a minimum ONE HOUR wait. Now is not a good time.

3pm ~ I have one tech on the phone trying to get a claim to go through and another tech still messing with today's order. I'm trying to hide in the corner to nibble on a sandwich. This is my first time today to have something to eat. Now is not a good time.

4pm ~ Moms are in the store with their kids fresh out of school picking up medications and asking 3.8 million questions about infant Tylenol. Old folks have their entire bag of medications and pulling out each bottle and shaking it to determine if they need a refill or not. The order still isn't put away. Now is not a good time.

5pm ~ The dinner rush is here. All the people who were kind of enough to request their prescriptions the night before using our automated system are now on their way home from work. They're tired, crabby, and want service now because The Walking Dead is on tonight. Hurry up. Physician offices are trying to clear out their refill requests before leaving for the day and our fax machine is trying to keep up. Now is not a good time.

6pm ~ One of the tech leaves for the day, leaving us to fend off the wolves alone. The dinner rush continues. The order is finally finished but now people are here asking about their refill requests and yelling at us because we faxed to their old doctor (not knowing they switched doctors). We have to refill the business card holder because people grab cards since they're going to call the 800 number to complain about our poor service. Now is not a good time.

7pm ~ The last tech leaves and I'm alone. People are still picking up medication, plus now the "night people" show up -- people with fake scripts that I can't verify because the physicians are all cozy on their couches at home watching The Walking Dead. Arguments ensue because I refuse to fill without verification. More business cards disappear. Now is not a good time.

8pm ~ Now I get the onslaught of people coming from Urgent Care or discharged from hospitals with a pile of scripts... things they can actually wait for until the next day, but they're all worried because they just came from the hospital (oddly, some are with scripts dated two days ago) and they need it now. Now is not a good time.

9pm ~ I just closed the door. I want to go home. I'm tired. Now is not a good time.


Anonymous said...

You say physicians get a lunch and then, in the exact same sentence, acknowledge we use that mythical 'lunch time' to do prescriptions. In addition to these prescriptions, we also use this magical 'lunch time' to answer phone calls, check on labs, finish notes from the morning, work on Prior auths/diabetic shoe forms/FMLA papers and whatever random minutiae came up that day.
I know you don't get a dedicated lunch break. Neither do I. I just have a period of time in the middle of the day when I don't actually have patients scheduled(though it is not the least bit unusual for me to see a walk-in during 'lunch'

Anonymous said...

Is the takeaway don't get your flu shot at the pharmacy? If so, that must be so frustrating that your employers do everything possible to promote the flu shot. Before reading your blog, I thought I was doing my pharmacist a favor by getting my flu shot there. I actually get them elsewhere now because the pharmacist jabs always hurt way more than at the docs!

Anonymous said...

So when is a good time? It seems no matter when one calls in, or goes to pick up, is a good time. It's not the customer's fault that you are busy. I try to come in a day after I call in a refill. You make it sound like customers are unwelcome at all time, that questions are unwelcome, and yet the pharmacist is supposed to be part of one's healthcare team. SMH

Crazy RxMan said...

From the very beginning, pharmacists expressed concerns to upper management about how they expect us to continue with the regular workload of filling prescriptions WITH the additional workload of providing immunizations. And we were told, from the very beginning, that additional technician help would be provided.

It hasn't. And it turned out to be such a cash cow, management decided to change tactics. Now we're told that it's not any different than filling a prescription (and that noise you just heard was all the pharmacists and techs reading this that laughed out loud). It is, without a doubt, the most disruptive thing that can happen during the regular prescription filling process.

We recognize it is absolutely not the fault of the patient, and we try to be accommodating to the patient as much as possible. But when a person waits in line 15 minutes to get to the window after seeing us racing around the pharmacy like mad men, we shake our heads at the question, yes.

Until we actually get additional help, immunizations will continue to be a huge disruption to an already overwhelming workload on pharmacists and technicians everywhere. So no, there really isn't a good time to get a flu shot.

Crazy RxMan said...

And I really have had people ask me if they can get a flu shot after I just closed the door to the pharmacy.

Anonymous said...

Who had the not quite brilliant idea for pharmacies to give flu shots anyway? I always got mine from my physician's office or (what was even better) when they came to my employer and did them en masse.

Unknown said...

No offense to your pharmacy or any other, but I have never understood why people choose to get flu shots at pharmacy's. If they are getting prescriptions filled then they have a doctor. Every time I see my doctor they ask if I want a flu shot. Why do people just not get their shots at their PCP.That would be the smart thing to do right?

Anonymous said...

You Go Doc! I work 10 HR days as only provider in a walk in clinic so even a coffee "break" just means taking a sip in between every thing else that needs to get done!

Anonymous said...

To neri- Your question makes sense for the most part, but it lets out one demographic. Many (I don't know how many) people are like me, on a maintenance medication that gets refilled often between dr visits. Unless I have a problem, I see my doctor once a year for a prescription renewal - but I see my pharmacist once a month for the refill. For me, it made sense to get my flu shot at the pharmacy (but I did do my best to do it at a (relatively) slow time!).

Anonymous said...

Also in regards to Neri's question, there are yet others like me who go to the doctor pretty much never. Unless I am actively sick, I don't go in. And while it's quite convenient to get a flu shot at a doctor's appointment you were going to have anyway, it's much less convenient to try to set up an appointment just for the sake of getting a flu shot. At a pharmacy with a more manageable workload (not the super busy chain retail locations), it is typically more convenient to just walk in and have a flu shot done. And then there are the rural areas where the nearest pharmacy is much closer than the nearest doctor's office.

Getting a flu shot at a pharmacy just really is easier and more convenient for most people, and immunization rates have generally gone up since pharmacies started offering them. But yeah, a busy pharmacy is never going to be super excited to give a flu shot. They have a lot going on already. Try a smaller, less busy pharmacy, or better yet, go to a flu shot clinic.

Anonymous said...

I've been in/out of the hospital over the past two weeks, been under anesthesia three times and was on a few days of IV antibiotics b/f being switched to oral (among several other issues)! Everyday of both hospital stays I was asked if I wanted a flu and a pneumonia (I'm under 65 but have asthma) vaccine? I declined (daily) at the time because my PCP has always said getting a flu vaccine, specifically when things are already "unstable," isn't a good idea! I'm already scheduled to see my PCP in a few weeks as a follow up and to get at least the flu vaccine and to discuss the pneumonia vaccine! Was my reasoning for declining the vaccines most recently valid or would there truly have been no harm? Thanks, Crazy!

Anonymous said...

At my clinic, if you are one of our patients, you walk in and ask for a flu shot. The float nurse(who does that, random lab draws, Rx line, extra help when one doctor's nurse is busy and needs help for a few minutes, etc) gives it to you. The end.

Unknown said...

I apologize to everyone that doesn't see their doc monthly. I guess I didn't think of the people that only see their PCP once a year. I am constantly at the doctor's.