The Pharmacy Chick

Flying the coup in retail

The 15 minute mistake.

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 5:55 pm on Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Tho I wont tell you where I DO work, I can say without any reservation that I do NOT work for Rite Aid…and THANK YOU GOD for that.  I have a couple of them on either side of PC pharmacy and they hate their life now.  “Sandy”  said ” I dont care, give them the $5.  the script will be ready when its ready”.  If you haven’t already figured out what I am talking about, its WRONG-aid’s decision to launch a program for a 15 minute guarantee to have a prescription ready or you get $5 in store credit. 

Aside from the obvious problems with this “program”….  What bonehead thought this up?  Seriously?  Not a pharmacist for sure..and most certainly NOT risk management attorney, because if either of them were involved they would have axed this program at its very introduction at the think tank of Rite aid…which now I think may not be much of a tank at all…maybe a small puddle.

Lets go over some basics. 

1. Is $5 worth having your butt sued for a prescription error worth it?  Uh, nope, not in my lifetime.  I am responsible for my own license and treat it like its worth everything I own…because  EVERYTHING I OWN WAS PURCHASED WITH MY LICENSE.

2.  A “guarantee”.  Even domino’s pizza got wise and dropped the 3o minute guarantee after car accidents occurred from frantic pizza drivers….

3.  Would you , as a patient, feel really good about having your LIFE sustaining drugs treated like a fast food item?  Thrown together to beat the clock?

If I were a Rite Aid pharmacist, I’d have called the board of pharmacy by now…..While that 15 minute RX just sits and gets properly typed,  properly counted, properly interpreted, and properly checked and properly counselled.

There will be repercussions. I dont normally dig the board of pharmacy much.  Generally their interest lies elsewhere than in the working condition of the pharmacist, They claim they are all about patient safety ( and making sure that I haven’t missed one single temperature entry on my log during their 4 hour audits.)  However, there if there is ANY LINK WHATSOEVER between pharmacy working conditions and  patient safety, this has to be the one floating to the top.

I am most interested in seeing what happens next.


Comment by Carol

March 2, 2011 @ 6:55 pm

and wht happes if the script is illegible? Or there is an interaction and the dr doesn’t call back in 15 min?

Comment by RxBoy

March 2, 2011 @ 7:39 pm

There must be some fine print in the details about that. I would imagine that the deal would be off if they have to call a doctor or if there is an insurance issue. There have been times that I’ve been on hold for over half an hour with an insurance company just to get a days supply override.

Regardless though, I would never ever use a pharmacy that made a guarantee like that and neither should anyone else who values their lives. Hopefully it won’t take someone dying from an error to make them realize this is a dangerous idea.

Comment by Realpharmer

March 2, 2011 @ 8:16 pm

There is plenty of fine print. If for whatever reason I have to call insurance, doctor, your grandmother then the deal is off. Also if there are more than three scripts it does not count. You get the picture. Thankfully the area I work in has stopped advertising or doing. If someone asks we tell them we stopped it, if they still don’t shut up we give em the five dollars and shoo them away.

Comment by C

March 2, 2011 @ 9:36 pm

Some of those people should wait in a military pharmacy, they would appreciate the 30 min to an 1 hr wait.

Comment by chrissie

March 2, 2011 @ 11:02 pm

that is the most insane thing i’ve ever heard. sometimes it is Just Not Possible to get even 1 refill Rx out in 15m

Comment by chris

March 3, 2011 @ 6:22 am

what happens if you get a big rush on? do you still do them in order and give everyone $5, or leave the few larger ones to wait a couple of hours, its still only a five, and churn out all the small ones as fast as possible.

This is stupid, my company is about to start monitoring waiting times, which seems fair enough for a company concerned with customer service. But if they ever start putting pressure on us to rush, or start giving out guarantees then I think they will have a fight on their hands.

Comment by Mallory

March 3, 2011 @ 6:39 am

My pharmacy always gets my prescription in 2-5 minutes. This is in the UK, so the prescription is printed, and there’s no insurance crap to deal with. If they’re really busy, you might have to wait 15 minutes, but they always jump me ahead of the queue, as I have a tendancy to pass out if I stand around (so not fun for the poor pharmacists, who then have to go through all the health and safety bullsh!t.)
They also have a system where you can request a repeat prescription online, the Doctors office sends your prescription directly to the pharmacy, and they’ll fill them and have them waiting for you to collect the next day.
The US system seems really complicated, and rushing things is just asking for trouble.

Comment by Mickey Blue Eyes

March 3, 2011 @ 9:25 am

The comment re. military pharmacy struck a chord with me. I recently took my dad to the VA hospital for some outpatient surgery. They prescribed a special antibiotic ointment for the wound. Waiting for the Rx took longer than waiting for the surgical procedure. I’d say a good two hours or more.

If my dad had wanted to speak to a pharmacist, it would have been an even longer wait in a separate queue.

The experience did make me recall an earlier post by PharmacyChick re. retail pharmacies being open and easily vieweable by the public but hospital pharmacies are hidden and inaccessible. The patient-accessible pharmacy in the VA is like visiting a bank. Thick bulletproof Plexiglas, a tiny ravine under the glass for paperwork and small bags, and a secure box (only one door will open at a time) for larger bags. The shelves are arranged parallel to the window so patients can’t see down each isle.

Comment by Mickey Blue Eyes

March 3, 2011 @ 9:29 am

On the topic of being in a hurry to fill Rxes, there have been a couple stories recently of patients receiving the wrong Rx.

One was a pregnant woman being given medication that could harm her baby because her name was too similar to another patient’s.

Another was a guy given wart remover instead of eye medication because the name of the products were too similar.

I’d rather wait and have my Rx filled correctly than the pharmacist be in a hurry and mistake an “e” for an “o” on a label and give me something that will kill me or cause blindness.

Comment by JS

March 3, 2011 @ 10:17 am

wonder if it’s worth the 900 miles to drive there? Hmmmm! No thanks!

Comment by Unchained Pharmacist

March 3, 2011 @ 11:24 am

$5? Really? Does RAD really think that it can make up for jeopardizing my health with just $5? I’m not a sandwich at Subway.

Anyway, while not a big fan of unions, I’m seeing more and more reasons for RPhs to unionize. This is just one more.

Comment by ProudtoServe

March 3, 2011 @ 11:41 am

As an AF pharmacist, we get every beneficiary that lives on base as well as any who want to drive their RV 500+ miles to the base so they can get their scripts filled while going to the commissary for a month’s worth of groceries.

Our patients receive all their meds (to include OTCs) without charge in up to 90 day supplies. Meds aren’t free because the Active Duty Member’s service is the price paid for the family’s healthcare and many times that price is too high.

I can’t vouch for what others do, but in my 15 years of military pharmacy, the delays aren’t because we are squandering patients’ time on hot lunches and bathroom breaks. It tends to be because the volume of demand exceeds the staff available to safely dispense (and this is before one or two of us get deployed somewhere sandy without indoor plumbing). We have the usual issues that civilian pharmacies deal with (Docs, Nurses, other pharmas, supply shortages) except that insurance is a smaller component of our headaches (this alone is worth the $20K a year less I make in pay).

I love being a military pharmacist and I have the greatest respect for my patients, but I too cringe when I hear the call for the 15 min prescription metric. While I value my patients’ convenience, I’m here for their safety. I’m not overly concerned whether the patient waits 10 min or 2 hrs, as long as when we they receive their meds, they have been counseled and their script is right.

Comment by Jay Pee

March 3, 2011 @ 12:04 pm

Good, Chick. The issue is not the working conditions of the pharmacist, per se. The issue is how working conditions can cause harm to the public. Any idiot can see that a 15 minute guarantee could place the patient in jeopardy. The job is to convince the state board that this RAD desperation Hail Mary along with the drive-through and tired pharmacists can and do cause harm. Add failure to warn (counseling) and you have a bubbling stew of danger. You know and I know that patients have died because of the above. Their families never have a clue that a hurrying pharmacist made a dispensing error and Aunt Millie took the medicine, never knowing it was not right, and died.
Good work, Chick.
Jay Pee

Comment by agree

March 3, 2011 @ 5:06 pm

very well put, pc.

Comment by IAPharmer

March 3, 2011 @ 6:25 pm

Obviously there was a RA pharmacist saying there is plenty of fine print and that they shoo them away etc.

My experience with many people will sit there an scream until they get their $5; I would not want to have to deal with that stuff. I would put in my resignation and move to another store!

Comment by Mike

March 3, 2011 @ 7:11 pm

Ok, I’m going to get flamed for this, so I’m prepared. I’m not looking to start a war, just looking to start a dialogue/conversation.

I have worked @ an independent for about 12 years. I just don’t see why the vast majority of RXs CAN’T be ready in FIVE minutes or less. I’m NOT talking about the prior auths/bad handwriting (virtually eliminated as we receive about 86% e-RXs)/drug interactions/other problems — I am talking about ROUTINE refills/new RXs for HCTZ, lasix, Humulin, etc.

Process the claim through the ins., count out the tablets/capsules, label the vial, ask the customer if everything’s going OK w/ the medicine, and have a cashier cash ’em out. Five minutes TOPS. Again, I make the disclaimer that this is the situation where nothing mechanical — ins., printer, lack of vials — goes wrong.

Same thing with a BASIC new RX. Example? Generic Cipro. Bill the ins., fill the vial, chat with the custimer — sunlight warning, take with lots of water, avoid antacids/dairy in a certain timer period, etc. VERY feasible to have them out of the store in five minutes or less.

Look, at the start of the post, I said I wasn’t looking to start a war. Please tell me why I’m right/wrong on this topic. For background, we do 2200-2400 RXs/week, and we have a Walgreens DIRECTLY across the street that has been there for 7+ years and barely does enough volume to stay open.Mike we dont allow any flaming on my site…if ya cant be nice you have to go elsewhere, so no worries. but to answer your question, yes, I can whip out a simple prescription in just a few minutes if I HAVE NOTHING ELSE TO DO.. but how often is that? Seriously, think about this particular example: Take a bucket..poke a hole in the bottom. dribble a little bit of water in the bucket and it comes right out the bottom in just a few seconds.. start pouring more water in that bucket and pretty soon you will maximize what that little hole will put out…pretty soon the bucket is full. Thats the typical work load …..full bucket all day. If I have 14 waiting scripts, and you bring in no. 15, it will get done AFTER the other 14..and I promise you, it wont be in 5 minutes. But if I am completely caught up and you bring me a script, it will be done quickly… Honestly mike, if you are doing 2400 scripts a week, I can’t believe that you are pumping out the majority in 5 minutes..unless you got 6 techs and 4 pharmacists.. I do around 1200 a week now and we do 1 pharmacist on all shifts.

Comment by Mike

March 3, 2011 @ 7:27 pm

Apologize for the several typos right above — eating and commenting @ the same time.

Comment by KL

March 3, 2011 @ 8:17 pm

Garbage like this is why I continue to drive by the chains to use my small hometown pharmacy. They tend to remember my name there, and are quick to answer questions and take time to care about my issues. They might not price match, sell diapers or make-up, but that’s really not why I need a pharmacy in the first place!

Comment by Mike

March 4, 2011 @ 10:37 am

Hey Chick,

Is there a way I can e-mail you? I want to explain the “work-flow” we use w/o boring all your readers to death!


Comment by Deb

March 4, 2011 @ 8:40 pm

The 15 minute guarantee starts as soon as the patient walks away, which is right when the drive-thru bell ring, which is also when the phone rings, and when a customer wants to ring up 30 items at the pharmacy register because the front end cashiers have a line of three people up front, one of whom is using a debit card and can’t remember their pin number…

Comment by Young RX

March 4, 2011 @ 10:11 pm

Didn’t Rite Aid have to sell off some of their pharmacies recently, or come close to it? Maybe this kind of management and establishing such impossible expectations had something to with it. I don’t know, I’m just sayin.

Comment by murgatr

March 5, 2011 @ 3:41 am

Do you want your prescription fast or do you want it done right?
If you hand me 15 Rx’s with requests for specific vial sizes, cut pills, and some to be popped out of the blister packaging, do you really think it will ALL be done in 15 minutes? Get a clue-by-four, people!

Pharm.Tech. RDC ’06

Comment by WrongAid

March 5, 2011 @ 8:34 am

As a “Rite” Aid RPh I can confirm we ALL hate our jobs. Oh sure there are stores here and there that do 700 or so that are tolerable. My theory as to management decisions made by our overlords is as follows:

There is a board or council of the 10 best pharmacists in the nation. They are charged with bettering Rite Aid and make sound logical recommendations. Each of these recommendations is given to the next level of management. Now this guys job is to do the exact opposite of said recommendation. And each time he is able to really surprise the RPh’s with his colossal ignorance he gets a bonus.

Guess what is next. Just heard this the other day. They are going to remove birthdates from our info sheets we use at the register. We will now have to get the birthday from the person picking up and type in at the register or the sale can’t complete. The fact that no one actually picks up their own medicine didn’t come up in that meeting I guess

Now you ask. Why you no quit crazy job? I’m trapped. No jobs. Any potential job pays 10+ dollars an hour less and I can’t afford it. My fault I know. As soon as feasable though I will be out. And as others have mentioned, I would never let my family get an rx filled at a Rite Aid. Mainly because I know all the RPh’s hate their job and don’t want to be there. I hope some executive asshole reads this.

1500 hundred at a Rite Aid is probably more like 4000 at a properly ran independent. There is so much stupidity we must wade through that one can only conclude is put in place solely to make our job harder.

Comment by Mike

March 5, 2011 @ 11:33 am

@ WrongAid: I feel for you, I really do. I can’t imagine being trapped like that, but I can see how you are. I cannot imagine even filling 900 a week under the insane conditions I hear about from you & others.

Comment by magpie

March 7, 2011 @ 5:51 pm

Why not just hand everyone a $5 gift card when they drop off their rx. Problem solved. Your rx will be ready when it’s ready. Your license/job is not worth it.

Comment by mixiepixy

March 14, 2011 @ 10:24 pm

Yikes! Those are really annoying. We’ve been having tough time with those coupon discounts for prescriptions that are transferred. It’s like a battle with our advertising dept. Regarding giving 5 bucks, does the company want to be liable for rx mistakes? That’s going to cost them way more money. I’d rather wait longer and know that my prescription was done properly.

Comment by pharmacyslave2000

March 24, 2011 @ 4:57 pm

@Magpie: It’s not quite that simple. See, the brain trust that WrongAid refers to claim that they are not monitoring how many gift cards a pharmacist gives out, to which I say BULLS**T. We are timed on the rx’s and I can guarantee that if you are responsible for a large number of gift cards there will be questions asked. The RAD culture is based on negativity and threats. If you do not meet their unrealistic goals then you are threatened. It is terrible but it pays well and, unfortunately, that is what’s important right now.

Comment by Elizabeth W

March 31, 2011 @ 8:57 pm

To add what I think is a bit of humor to all of this (if that is possible) I dropped a script off at the drive thru at my local Rite-Aid the other day and was told it would be ready in 30 minutes. When I returned, I read the 15 minute gurantee ad and picked up my script, asking the tech how one could be told 30 minutes when there was a 15 min. guarantee. I was told the guarantee did not apply to scripts dropped off at the drive thru. Ok. A couple of days later, I phoned in for a refill, and when I went to pick it up, (inside) I pointed out to the tech the 15 minute guarantee and my conversation with her the other day. I was told the guarantee only applied if I were to wait at the drive-thru. I stated that surely the pharmacy did not want me to block the drive thru window for 15 minutes while waiting for my prescription. The tech (and the pharmacist) agreed, but then told me that the 15 minute guarantee only applied at the drive-thru if I were to continually drive around the store and thru the drive-thru until the prescription was filled.
Dont get me wrong…I think the 15 minute guarantee is ridiculous and dangerous…but I found the staff’s attempts at dealing with it hilarious.

Comment by Independent RPH

April 1, 2011 @ 2:14 pm

This is hilarious. I love it. More chain business for me. First of all various time work flow studies done in connection with costs to dispense have shown that over 90% of all rx’s are filled in 10 minutes or less.
Um I fill 850 rx’s per week in my store and I’ve got buddies that do better than that. Now I know you chain guys can count by 4 but apparently can’t divide or multiply by 4. let me help you 4 X 15 = 60. 60 minutes = 1 hour. 4 rx’s per hr would only be 160 rx’s per 40 hrs. I’m pretty sure every pharmacy in America would be out of business if they only filled 4 rx’s an hr. anyway I am happy to take your customers and even will honor your 5 bucks all day every day cause i’ll never be handing one out.would you like to explain this? I don’t understand the point you are making with the 4 rx per hour example. who says we fill 4 rx per hour? I read every comment. there is no mention.. I will have 160 rx processed on a monday in 3 hours..not 40..

Comment by RA Pharm Tech...

April 22, 2011 @ 1:45 pm

I work at a small RA in a small town where we do about 200 to 250 per day…. the 15 minute guarantee is CRAPOLA! I had FOUR customers last night, back to back, bringing in 2 and 3 RXs each for a total of 12 in a 15 minute period!??! One pharmacist and one tech (where I am also moonlighting as cashier, receptionist, phone operator and sales floor associate) are expected to enter, count, check and bag 12 scripts in 15 minutes?? Mind you this all occurring while I am also answering the phone (3 lines at once, YAY!) and helping customers find Band Aids and Tinactin??????? Seriously?

I don’t get paid much to deal with such stress but at the same time, in this economy it’s the only job there is right now….. *SIGH*

Comment by bs pharmacy

April 27, 2011 @ 11:13 pm

i guess we are the most honest profession. we would never lie to invalidate the 15 minutes guarantee.
anythng could happen like insurance company computers are down, rxs un readable. problem with your insurance card, etc

Comment by Tech

July 25, 2011 @ 9:01 am

I am a tech at a RA in PA. I loved that NY and NJ put the kibosh on the 15 minute stupiditee. My question is, how can we go about getting it stopped in PA?? There has got to be something in the PA BOP policy that is being violated by RA here and in every state really. PLEASE let’s all figure out a way to stop it nationwide!! Thanks for any advice you can give!!

Comment by OldRPh

October 6, 2011 @ 9:40 am

Thx for the discussion. RA lost a law suit because they didn’t provide lunch time for pharmacists. Now in many stores they close for a lunch break. They may not be bad just slow learners (check their stock price for a market eval.). I floated for RA for many months, saw many patient incentive programs come and go, I tried to comply. But if patient care was impaired, tried to care with compliance to programs. I never found the balance RA liked. I also found different interpretations of procedures in different stores ( ref. drive-thru $5 diss.) I owned my own stores for many years, knew my customers, their kids and their kids. When greed overcomes care I have only one speed…SAFE. I no longer work for RA because my region didn’t have lunch breaks and was poorly managed generally, now i can’t find a job and am unwilling eat and type and count and check and tell people where to find the motor oil. thanks

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