Monday, January 24, 2011

Complaint Dept.

I don't know what it is, but the last couple of weeks at work I feel like I could jump out of my skin. The same obstacles keep popping up every day and easy stuff finds a way to be difficult. It'll get better, but for now I would like to blow off steam about a few things.

1. Managers who give permission for technicians to leave early on days that the manager is NOT working, and I AM. I think it would be common courtesy for the manager or technician to ask ME if it's OK beforehand, since I am the one who is going to cover for the absence by being a highly-paid cashier for the rest of the day. I am sick and tired of seeing people walk out the door early because someone who's not there told them it was OK.

2. I understand it is sometimes necessary to use your lunch break to run errands. But that is still your lunch break. Don't come back to the pharmacy, plop yourself down and proceed to take another half hour to actually eat. You had your lunch break. It is now over.

3. Please, for the love of God, cut back the personal phone calls. Ignoring customers while you talk loudly on the phone to your 'whoever' is --- well, I shouldn't even have to get into it.
What makes people think that personal conversations take priority over doing their damn job?

4. OK, insurance companies --- you've sent me a letter advising me that all generics of a certain drug are back-ordered and will be for many weeks. Only the brand name is available. So how about giving people a little break on that jacked-up brand name copay, since it's really not their fault that they can't get the generic, huh? And you know they can't get it --- you just told me, right?

5. I really don't like telling people that the advice they've been given is baloney. I try to be nice about it and not undermine anyone too much, no matter how stupid it is. My customer was told by a dietitian to take "super-potent" Vitamin C supplements to help his back heal after surgery. I told him to save his money. He agreed with me.

And that concludes my pissing and moaning for now.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Little Cluster of Inattentiveness

A couple of encounters with pharmacy on the 'customer' side of things for me lately....
subsequent to the ER visit mentioned in my last post, we were given a prescription for 9 tablets of generic Zofran for nausea. I usually get prescriptions filled at the pharmacy where I work, but circumstances required me to go to a nearby chain store ( shall remain nameless, rhymes with Schmalgreens). They weren't too busy. I was out of there in 10 minutes.

Got home, opened the bag and observed that the prescription was labeled for 9 tablets, billed for 9 tablets, and filled with 30 tablets (ie, the label was placed on a box of 30 and I got all of them). Also observed that the patient address on the label was over 10 years old and had not been updated with the address shown on the prescription.

A few days later, a neighbor of mine (senior citizen) was telling me about getting a prescription from his local grocery store pharmacy. It was for a topical gel. They called him the next day and asked him to bring the prescription back, as they had discovered on their QA audit that they gave him the wrong strength. He did, they apologized profusely, filled the correct one and (to their credit) they refunded his $200+ copay.

True, none of these things would have killed anybody. It just caused me the tiniest bit of discouragement. And I don't even use pharmacies that often!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

I have been fortunate in my life to stay out of the emergency room (at least as a patient). Made an unexpected visit there last night with a family member, after a clinic doctor recommended we go there for some IV re-hydration. The IV was placed right away, but then we started the long, long wait to get back in a room with a doctor, to check lab work and finish the assessment. It was a long evening, ending back home about 2 am.

The ER was, of course, very busy. As we waited we had a chance to observe many others come in. Nobody looked near-death, but a lot of people looked pretty uncomfortable especially after sitting and waiting for several hours. The guy across from us decided he wanted to call it quits and leave -- he was kind of pissed --- and a nurse came over and very politely and gently talked him out of it. I was really impressed with the attitude of the staff. They just kept plowing ahead, dealing with all kinds of people, issues and problems.

Two other things I observed: a LOT of very overweight folks.... probably not taking very good care of themselves. The other thing -- people wear funny clothes when they come to the ER. One adult male was in Tweety Bird pajama pants. Well, it was something to look at anyway.

I recently wrote about customers bugging us about how long their prescription is going to take. Quite honestly, the wait in the ER was excruciating -- almost 4 hours. But once we got 'roomed' and the process began, the staff was attentive, thorough and nice as all get-out. They followed every step and addressed every issue. They didn't rush us or give it the quick once-over and boot us out the door. Nothing was too trivial. My family member was feeling better by that time and was quite hungry -- the nurse went and got a handful of snack crackers and some juice to tide him over. The doctor, who was apparently at the end of his shift, was unhurried, approachable and just darn nice.

I left that place really tired but really appreciative that everything was OK and that we were lucky enough to have access to this medical care. A lot of people don't. Yes, it was a long wait, and the thought crosses your mind to just bag it and go home. I'm glad we didn't.

And I guess what I think about as far as pharmacy work is give us time to do our jobs.
That's all the ER staff was asking for. I know it isn't always easy, but something to keep in mind.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The OTC Jungle, Revisited

New regulations in 2011 will no longer allow people to purchase over the counter medications with their health care flex-spending debit cards, unless their physician has written them a prescription for that OTC product. Even then, the rules for reimbursement will vary among insurance plans --- my own plan, for instance, still requires a different method of payment and for me to manually submit items, including a copy of the prescription, to them.

It's going to be interesting to see how this plays out. First of all, we need people to know how their own plan handles this, and we all know how splendidly it works out when we ask people to understand their own insurance. (Not.) There are going to be lots of people who will be asking US to get those prescriptions FOR them, as in "Can you call my doctor and get a prescription for Robitussin DM and how-long-will-that-take and when-can-I-pick-it-up," etc. And even though we are using technician and pharmacist time to process these as prescriptions, we have been told that ultimately we will still charge only the OTC price, because that is what other pharmacies are doing (....true?) So the time we spend fiddling around with this will be free.

We have a good proportion of customers who use these FSA debit cards, and I feel sure that none of them will know about this change. I seldom claim for OTC's myself --- I don't buy that many and I tend to throw out the receipt without thinking. Is it worth the trouble? Get the generics, clip the coupons, and ask your friendly pharmacist if it's worth the price. If they wanted to change the rule, maybe it should have been no more OTC claims, with or without a 'prescription.' Save the paperwork. We've got enough already.