I don’t know where I am going with this story, but its one I wanted to write for a while.
Several years ago Mark was a technician of mine on a part time basis. He worked for me on Fridays and Sundays and he worked at another store on mondays and thursdays. (this matters) The rest of the week he floated around. He was every pharmacists version of a perfect technician: He was fast and accurate, he was easy to get along with and he never missed a shift. What else could you ask for?
Because we worked together on a lot of Sundays, we had the chance to talk quite often. We couldn’t have been more different had it been scripted. My upbringing was Leave it to Beaver and his was like a bad episode of The Simpsons. He told me of his alcoholic mother, his absent father and his drug addict ( and incarcerated) brother. He moved out of his home when he was 15, and had been on his own ever since. He rented a bedroom from a friend of his. He said he didn’t need much space since he was never home anyway.
I loved the summer and he loved the winter. In fact, he would work as much as he could in the summer so he could fund his passion: snowboarding and skiing. For me, snow is just something to be shoveled and wished away. He also loved all things Asian, also not my style. He wanted to travel to or live in Thailand. In fact, one of our terminals at the store still has a desktop picture that mysteriously shows up now and then of some bay in Thailand. I cannot get rid of it, and I still do not know how he put it there since he didn’t have administrative rights on that terminal.
He finally got to go to Thailand and once back, he talked about the place like it was heaven on earth.
He was smart…and a bit of a smart ass…and one day it all started to catch up with him.
One day we got a call from the other store Mark worked in. She asked to speak with Mark. I didn’t get to hear all of the conversation, only bits and pieces: “No, I didn’t see that in the order” “I must have missed the invoice” “Sorry about that,I’ll be more careful”. I asked him specifically what happened. He told me that the pharmacist had an invoice for a drug that she didn’t order. He had checked everything in but didn’t see that they were shorted that item because it was on a separate invoice.
The pharmacist didn’t let that ball drop however. Since the invoice was for a controlled substance in a package size they didn’t normally carry, she decided to investigate. What she found out started an avalanche. Mark had ordered the product over the phone, the previous day. Only he wasn’t working there the day he ordered it. He was working someplace else. The wholesaler records all the orders and includes the date, time and who placed the order. Because Mark had ordered a 500ct bottle, she was alerted to this discrepancy. They never carried it in a 500ct size.
Mark was a thief: a highly clever one, but still a thief. He had written down the account numbers of several stores. Then, on the day before he was scheduled to work at a store, he would call the wholesaler and order bottles of diazepam and Hydrocod/APAP. Then, on the next day, he would ticket the order, file or trash the invoice and none would be the wiser. He also knew who worked when, so that when he placed his phone orders, it was on a day that a different pharmacist was working from the day before. He knew that If Greg worked thursday then Marcia worked friday and she wouldn’t neccessarily know what Greg used the day before.
I was sickened by the accusations. I had liked Mark and now I had to keep this quiet investigaion under my hat until they found more evidence. It didnt’ take long. They had every store he commonly worked in print usage records and compare it to purchases. My store alone had about a 4000 tab discrepancy of Hydrocod/APAP-5/500 alone over that 2 year period. I was also missing about 2000 Diazepam 5mg.
Armed with all that information, the company sent security out to the store to interveiw Mark. He politely went up to the office with them. About a half hour later he sauntered back (alone), grabbed his coat, and said he had to go with them. Five minutes later, one member of security came back and asked “Where’s Mark?” “With you?” we answered. Apparently the men of Security aren’t brain trusts. They let Mark go and get his coat unescorted and he bolted.
I never saw him again.
Reports were filed, procedures were altered, and eventually the fallout settled on the incident. Somebody asked me why I didn’t notice I was missing narcotics? I almost laughed in their face. “We go thru something like 2000+ Hydrocod/Apap tabs a WEEK around here. 2000×52 weeks is 104,000 tabs a year. Thats 208 bottles a year, or 416 bottles over a 2 year span. 4000 tabs is a lot of tabs, but it represented only 1.9% of what we actually dispensed over that 2 year span. It averaged 166 tabs per month.
I liked him, but he violated our trust. Somebody said he moved to Thailand, somebody else thought they saw him on the east side of town. I don’t care.
Its been years. Techs have come and gone. I’d prefer to trust every one of them, but I cannot and don’t want to watch them day and night. Even I have to take a bathroom break now and then. I have learned that if a person wants to steal, they will. For every measure intended to stop theft, there will be another way around it. I once said, “if you want to stop stealing then we have to practice naked and everything in the pharmacy has to be transparent.”
Know what? I am sure somebody would find a way.