Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Caller, Identify Thyself

Even though most people have caller I.D. these days, when I call a customer's home from the pharmacy the FIRST thing I do when they answer is identify myself -- who I am, and where I'm calling from. THEN, I ask if I can speak to the person I'm looking for. I figure this is common phone etiquette and they know up front that I am not a telemarketer or some other nuisance call. I got a phone call the other day at home that went:

Me (not recognizing the number but answering anyway): Hello?
Caller: Is Mrs. McGillicuddy there?
Me (pretty sure this is no one I wish to speak to but still don't know who it is): No, she's not.
Can I take a message?
Caller: Well...uh... is Mr. McGillicuddy there?

Okay, at this point I feel under no obligation to answer any more questions till the caller identifies THEMSELF. I find this really obnoxious. People will call the pharmacy and ask for a certain person. When told they are not there, they'll ask for another person. When they are not there either, they'll say "Well, who is there today?" I STILL have no idea who I'm talking to and now I have to give them a rundown of the entire staff? Nuh-uh.

Or sometimes it will go:

Me: Frantic Pharmacy, this is Lucy speaking.

Am I not justified in asking ...... WHO ARE YOU ????

(..... sorry about all the CAPITALS.)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

90-Day Nonsensical

In my Sunday paper's Walgreens flyer there was a little boxed-off section which read:

Get your 3-FILL; 3 months supply
.. it's 3 refills in one
..and for 3 months, you're done.
Ask your pharmacist about a 90-day prescription today.

That was it. That's all it said. NO disclaimers whatsoever!!! Easy as pie, right?

Now I do not work for Walgreens, but if I did this kind of stuff would drive me CRAZY. What a totally misleading ad, and what a headache it must create for their pharmacies. I'm sure they have people coming in 'asking their pharmacist' why they can't get a 3-month prescription of Percocet or Oxycontin. I'm sure they have people coming in asking why they can't get a 3-month prescription and pay the same as they do for 1 month. And of course the big thing they left out here is that your ability to get a 3-month prescription of anything (even if your doctor wrote it that way) is dictated by your INSURANCE plan, and unless you are on a dirt cheap generic you're going to need a plan that covers 3 months (with the appropriate increased copay), otherwise you'll be sticking with the one-month, thank you very much. Or, if your plan does cover 3 months they'll likely require you to use mail-order, which has nothing to do with Walgreens anyway. But strangely, the ad didn't mention any of that.

They would prefer you come in and 'ask' your pharmacist for the details on this, and God knows they've got all kinds of time to explain it.

For 3 months, you're done!!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

I Don't Get It

1. When there's a huge computer, phone, or other technology screw-up that impacts our customer service and puts us a half-day behind, why is there never any accountability? If I messed up so royally in my job on such a regular basis, I'd be in serious trouble. But all we get from these fiascos is, "sorry for the inconvenience, thanks for being patient." These people want us to believe that these glitches are unexplainable, and we just have to hang in there. I'm NOT BUYING that CRAP anymore.

2. When someone is fully aware that their prescription needs a doctor approval, or a prior authorization, or some other Act of God before it can be filled, and simply shows up without calling first and watches in amusement as I frantically search for something that just ain't gonna be there, no way, no how.

3. When I e-mail someone in management with a legitimate question or concern, why can't they simply hit the 'reply' button and send me a one-line, simple response?.... even if it's only to say, "I got your message and I'll get back to you."

4. When a customer sends me on a long, time-consuming wild goose chase to get their cheap prescription changed to something that will be covered without a copay, because they inexplicably came to the pharmacy with no money. However, said customer is adorned with piercings, tattoos, jewelry, exotic nails and a smart phone.

5. In these days of high unemployment, when a pharmacy employee can't condescend to do their freakin' job. Show up on time, not 15 minutes later. And get up and go wait on that customer who, whether you like it or not, provides the revenue to keep you employed here.

6. Cameron Diaz. She's apparently one of Hollywood's highest paid actresses. When was the last time she was in a movie that anyone wanted to see?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

It's An Error

There's another prescription error in the news -- in Colorado, a woman was given someone else's prescription (the person had a "similar sounding" name) and she took it home and took a dose. She realized soon after that a different name was on the bottle. Unfortunately the drug was methotrexate and the woman is in her first trimester of pregnancy, so now she must await the possibility of miscarriage or birth defects.

This is awful of course, and according to one news report, the woman said the pharmacist (and we'll assume it actually was the pharmacist and not other support staff) knew that the drug was methotrexate and even helped her pick out some prenatal vitamins.

Obviously there was a breakdown here --- the pharmacy says their policy is to double-check the name and address when handing out a prescription. In addition, the offer of counseling or at least the quick 'show and tell' wasn't done. I'm sure the pharmacist couldn't feel worse. Reading about this kind of thing is a good wake-up call for all of us not to let ourselves slide into any shortcuts because of the pressure of doing things 'fast.' (Yeah, I know.... all the forces are still against us on that...... See: every pharmacist's chief complaint..)

Believe me I'm not blaming the patient for any of this, but it's also a good reminder to folks who are picking up prescriptions--
1. Please don't get visibly irritated when we ask (again!) to verify your name, date of birth or address.
2. Look carefully at your medication bottle and receipt before you take any of it.
3. Look at the patient information leaflet that is provided with your prescription. If this patient had done so, she would have immediately realized this medication was NOT for her.

Another reminder of the human factor today. For all the venting we do on our pharmacy blogs, none of us wants to see this happen.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

First of the Month -- Schedule 2 Count Time!

For the non-pharmacy folk: Schedule 2 drugs are the heavy hitters (Oxycontin, Percocet, Ritalin and many others with high abuse potential) that pharmacies are required to keep an exact count of. Every month we are required to count our inventory and make sure it reconciles exactly with the record of prescriptions dispensed, which are individually logged throughout the month.) Other bloggers have lamented how a Schedule 2 prescription used to be a rarity --- now, we shovel them out in buckets.

One of the pharmacies I cover occasionally has constant trouble with these counts. Some are over the expected amount and some are under. There's no real pattern to either the amounts or the drugs affected. Now, ordinarily this is how many a pharmacy employee has been caught stealing, but this is a small staff --- no turnover, long-term capable employees and honestly there's really no suspicion of diversion here (I know it sounds naive, but trust me on this.) In addition, most of these discrepancies are solved and found to be the result of error --- miscounts, addition or subtraction errors in the log, brand-name/generic mix-ups, prescriptions dispensed but not logged, new inventory received but not logged in correctly, etc. The mistakes appear to caused primarily by people in a hurry, as is the usual state of pharmacy.

There are a few that are never solved, though. It takes so much time, effort and teeth-gnashing to figure out the discrepancies -- there's always a little nervousness and finger-pointing and frustration involved, because it is a big deal and no one wants any cloud of suspicion hanging over them.

And then it came to me to ask out in the blogosphere if anyone out there has a good system going that keeps those Schedule 2 counts pristine? Other than counting the damn things on a daily basis?