Monday, October 30, 2017

An Appeal to Reason

Here we in the pharmacy pushing flu shots like mad... mostly because The Authorities in upper management keep the pressure on. We get an email or phone call or fax about it every day.

"TO ME," she emphasized by touching both hands to her chest, "it's about patient safety." That's what one clinical pharmacist in our company told me awhile back. I told her that's ridiculous. It's all about company profit, I retorted. She knew I was seeing right through her bull crap story and admitted that yeah, it's a little bit about profit too.

That one event and her admission made me wonder... it made me really wonder what OTHER issues are not at all about how they're presented to us. Obviously a company has to make a profit to survive. No one questions that. But running a pharmacy like a grocery store is just never going to work. "It's no way to run a railroad," as some would say.

You can't work pharmacists and technicians to death. You can't expect that pharmacy teams will continue understaffed without major issues. Eventually, somewhere, somehow, a very frightening mistake will emerge. Someone will get the wrong medication, the wrong dose, or there will be an interaction that's not caught... AND SOMETHING REALLY BAD IS GOING TO HAPPEN... all because the pharmacists and technicians are excessively burdened due to lack of sufficient labor and fueled by discount card nonsense.

It's coming. I guarantee you it's coming. Someone in upper management needs to step up and say "ENOUGH is ENOUGH. Our bonuses are NOT more importanat than people's lives." Someone in upper management needs to say, "This is not a grocery store. This is HEALTHCARE. We MUST treat it differently."

I know there people in upper management positions that read this blog. Seriously, LISTEN to ME:

it's time to stop rolling the dice. Your number is just about up. Step away from the ledge. Start caring about your patients (or customers as you like to call them) by caring about your pharmacists and technicians. Whatever business model you're using that says it's ok to run labor like the fictional Durham in Sinclair's The Jungle, throw it away.

The irony that Sinclair's work is about a company in Chicago that abuses it's workers AND the fact that present day Chicago is making sweeping changes with pharmacy labor hasn't eluded me. It shouldn't elude you either. 

Do the right thing. Step up, pull up your adult britches, and DO THE RIGHT THING.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Blind Side of Ignorance

Here's a metaphor to illustrate the insanity of reducing tech hours not because of lowered volume...  but lowered profit. This is a simple illustration, but it gets the point across.

Imagine you and I are part of a football franchise. The team has 11 players. The goal, of course, is to win games and fill the stands with people and sell them hot dogs. The more hots dogs we sell, the more money the franchise makes, obviously. 

Management isn't happy that the team franchise isn't making as much profit this year. The volume of sales are actually up... we're selling more hot dogs than ever before... but the middlemen handling reimbursement on hot dog sales is taking a bigger cut and therefore profit is down. 

To make things worse, management signed an agreement with GoodWeiner (and other discount plans) giving fans a discount on their hot dog purchases... they save a few bucks but the football franchise takes a bit hit with every hot dog sold. They didn't read the fine print and signed the agreement without really thinking about it... you know... besides... the other football franchises were signing agreements too, and be damned if we're going to be left out of that!

Of course the football team itself has nothing to do with the prices of hot dogs. Our training is in football, not sales. Regardless, we football players have no control over the price of the hot dogs on any level anyway! We don't set the retail price, nor do we negotiate the costs involved in purchasing them.

But management, the ones brimming with vast intelligence, tells us that they're going to reduce the number of football players to 10, maybe even 9... until sales and profit of hot dogs sold increases.  So to start off, they fire one of the players.

"But how are we supposed to win games with only ten players when the other team has eleven?" we ask.

"Find a way. Once profit is back up you'll get your 11th player back," is what we're told.

(In other words, work harder just to earn the right to have a NORMAL amount of football players to handle the game).

AS RIDICULOUS as this sounds, this is EXACTLY what is going on with Goofmart Pharmacy (and other pharmacies all around the nation) right now! Management expects us to win games with 10 players and fill the stands with hungry hot dog eaters.

In pharmacies all across the nation, pharmacy managers are threatened that unless they get profit up by increasing sales, they will lose tech help. In many cases the workforce has already been cut. In other situations, the workload has increased dramatically yet upper management tells their pharmacy managers that there's no extra tech help to spare. Keep your level of sales the same with what you have.

This metaphor lacks one important aspect crucial to the entire argument. Pharmacy is HEALTH CARE. When you reduce the help needed to run a pharmacy, in essence you're increasing the risk associated with someone on the team making an error... and the potential that a serious, devastating error gets through the system and harms a patient.

In Illinois they're starting to understand the implications of pushing pharmacists and techs too far. They're suggesting some major changes to their pharmacies. See LINK. So Goofmart Authorities, how about we be first on the block to make sweeping changes ourselves?

It's only patient safety at stake, right?