Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Let's Talk Trash

Most days I am bowled over by the amount of trash we produce during one workday in the pharmacy. We have multiple receptacles and by the end of the day they are all overflowing. A lot of it is packaging material and empty bottles, but the majority is just paper. Every prescription that is processed results in some form of discarded paper. There is always some unused portion of the label or receipt as well as backing from labels that gets peeled off and thrown away. The patient information leaflet is often discarded (my diabetic customer who's been coming in for 10 years doesn't need or want the patient info sheet on the 1000th refill of his One Touch Ultra Test Strips. ) But the computer system prints it anyway, and theoretically I'm supposed to provide it, but that's another story. Anyway, I've had people at the cash register pull the medication vial out of the bag and hand everything else back to me and tell me to toss it. If I decide I need to reprint JUST a label for some reason, my crappy computer system reprints everything else too --- receipt, patient leaflet --- which goes right into the trash.

We are supposed to separate 'confidential' stuff (anything with a person's name on it) from other trash but compliance with that is pretty spotty. When you have people filling in at your store who don't normally work there, they don't pay attention to it. And when I see the trash collected at the end of the day I don't see the various containers handled any differently. It all seems to go into the same big bin. I find this worrisome, but to be honest, having a protocol for this is the job of someone with a more important title than me.

Then when I got home today I picked up my own mail from the mailbox. I looked through it, and EVERYTHING went into the recycle bin. There were a couple of credit card applications, some grocery leaflets, some investment prospectus(?) or something, a free magazine that I don't even look at, and a subscription renewal reminder that I already sent in. Some days I just hate all this waste.

If we had a better computer system at work it might help, but don't even get me started on that.


Lipstick said...

totally agree. We recycle our plastic bottles (as in I drive the bags to the local recycling place). I can't wait til my employer is more eco-friendly.

The paper...oh my, it drives me crazy. And what is up with additional pt info printing about syringes?? Ours says "these are used to inject insulin."

Grumpy, M.D. said...

My office building has no recyling. Drives me nuts. I actually set up a recycling bin here and take it home each night, to my home container.

Anonymous said...

Response to 'Talking Trash'.

Agree. For some reason, though when I fill in at various pharmacies, bins are never clearly marked. I always look for the plastic bottle bin; self-evident. However, the incidental candy-wrapper and personal script info is often mixed together. When I fill in, it's usually not my call to straighten up the joint. Some shops are so arrogant about making things difficult for the hired help they put trash containers about 10-20 feet away from the printers, and expect folks to walk over thereabout (must be for exercise) every 3 minutes. But, hey, it's not my business to straighten up the joint.

Really, what is the good of all that wasted paper? Have you, or anyone you know, personally sat down and read any of the patient packaging? I like Target's little one-inch synopsess affixed to the patient-friendly vials. (Why can't pharmacies have Wal-mart's computer-friendly program, Target's bottle labeling, CVS's/Wal-mart's transferability of pharmacy information, etc. I'm sure other pharmacies have great things going for them, too. Are all these processes patented, that only a government facility would by able to access and incorporate all this usefulness?)

Shalom expressed his frustration one time with the programming printers, and someone else ranted about the size of stock bottles related to size of contents.

It's also irritating to work with top-heavy chemo vials in the VFLH hood; all metal and heavy on top of a dinky plastic or glass vial tips over easily set out on the absorbent spill pads in the chemo hood.

Frantic Pharmacist said...

Anonymous above -- well said. Sometimes it seems like we look at what 'makes sense', then do the exact opposite. Why is this the standard in our workplaces?