The Pharmacy Chick

Flying the coup in retail

Meeting myself in the advice column.

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 11:48 am on Monday, June 25, 2012

Our local newspaper has a daily advice column, of the ” dear Abby” variety.  Its kind of hit and miss as far as how often I read it, but occasionally its good reading.  It certainly brings to life the the expression ” truth  is stranger than fiction”.  There are some seriously messed up people!

One day last week this girl writes in and ( paraphrased) writes that she has a wonderful relationship with her boyfriend but for one thing: she fears she can’t do anything right–for example: if she puts the dishes in the dishwasher, he will re arrange them.  if she parks her bike at the park, he will straighten it out. if she folds the clothes, he will refold them. She cited a few more examples about how he must think she is a dope because he “fixes” everything she does.  The columnist responded and nailed it right on the head:  ” dont think this is about you honey, its about him”. She deduced that he probably has mild form of OCD-ish tendencies and for HIS world to be right, the dishes have to be straight in the dishwasher and that bike needed to be a certain way in the bike rack and his undies have to be folded just so.

I know this guy: Its me ( in female form). I have come to understand while I am not over the top OCD, I certainly have to have a certain amount of order in my life for me to be comfortable.  I dont wash my hands 100 times day, and I don’t need to straighten the fringe on the area rugs all day long or shut a door 100 times to be sure its closed, but if certain things aren’t right, my world is rocked off its axis until those things are corrected.

I keep my closet organized.  Its all separated by item and color.  all my golf shirts are arranged ROYGBIV, as are Mr Chicks by my hand.  All the pants hang a certain way and every drawer is tidy.  Black sox here, white sox there.  Everything needs to have a place..and everything needs to be IN that place.  If its not, then I ruminate over it way too much until I can fix it. I hate clutter…and I have too much of it already.

Mr Chick is not this way, tho to some extent he will entertain my obsessions and support my efforts to keep my world straight. He lets me keep his shirts in order and he makes a modest attempt to keep his side of the closet tidy.

I know I am ridiculous.

My golf bag is just as ridiculous.  If Mr chick hands me golf balls he finds and wants to stick it in my bag..and they AREN’T a titleist pro-v 1, I can’t hardly stand them to be IN my bag and cant wait until the round is over and I can get them out.  I dont like stuff in my bag that I dont WANT in it.  I dont like his fleece, or his water bottle or his rain gear in my bag either.  I need a good head slap probably.

My concession to this is the garage.  If it were up to me that garage would be operating room clean, and well organized.  Sadly, its Mr Chick’s space and its a rather messy and disorganized space.  When we replaced all the dilapidated  cabinetry a couple of years ago, I encouraged organization, but it didn’t go very well.  To this day, the drawers are a jumbled mess of junk and if we want something and can’t find it, we will more often than not abandon the search and go and buy it. ( then stumble upon it later) The cabinets have modest organization, but nothing special. I keep resisting the urge to start cleaning it…and I may give in  to the urge and do it.

Recently my world was rocked again with a remodel in the bathroom.  For 6 weeks we have had all of our bathroom and master closet stuff  in totes in the bedroom and guest rooms.  We have been bathing in the guest room and all of my clothes have been piled on the guest bed. I find myself tidying up OTHER areas of the house because I can’t tidy up the mess upstairs.  It makes everything dusty ( even with the draping) and currently its all cluttered and awry.  I made one step back to normalcy when the closet was completed:  I had my clothes back in place in record time!

The pharmacy is a reflection of my need for order.  I have things in certain places for a reason and they have to be there.  If my special spatula is missing, I am internally upset.  I dont care if the rx’s are in complete alphabetical order, but I do like them to be exactly equidistant on the shelves ( left to right) so I can see them best.  the tape has to be straight and the stapler has to be next to the tape.

I am grateful for a staff who understands me.

I am ridiculous…but its who I am.



Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 6:01 pm on Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I hope there isn’t any REAL Thomas Quenton Flickenstein, because I love that new character…He will probably be the butt of a lot of jokes for a long time. He will be the ulitimate Generic guy.  We need a wife for him, maybe some kids.

Throw out some names please!  Winner gets…um… 1 attaboy and recognition on this very famous pharmacy blog.

The panel ( me) will pick the winner!


This ain’t Cheers

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 6:24 pm on Tuesday, June 12, 2012
  • “…..where everybody knows your name….”

Right drug, Right dose, Right Directions, RIGHT PATIENT.

The four cornerstones of a properly filled prescription.  You can do 1,2 or 3 of them right, but if one of them is wrong the consequences can be devastating.

So why is it that so many people become so damn indignant when, at the pick up window, the tech wants to verify the patient’s name + one other form of ID verification?At PC Pharmacy we verify street address or Date of birth.  Its is a company wide policy.  Names can be duplicated.  I personally have 6 active David Smiths in my computer. I also have about 5 Nancy Johnsons, and  the list goes on.

Everytime there is a nationally publicized rx error, we get some kind of corporate reminder to be attentive to all policies and procedures about selling the right drug to the right patient.

I get this….so why is it so hard for the patient to appreciate this attention to detail?

Saturday I had a float tech,  She was new so EVERYBODY at the counter was a stranger to her.  THEREFORE She would also be a stranger to everybody who approached the counter.  Do you really expect somebody YOU have never seen before in your life to know your  name??

If you are a patient who reads this:  We aren’t being nosy. We care about detail.  You might be the only Thomas Quenton Flickenstein in the entire world, but I dont know that, and I will make completely sure that you are the PROPER Thomas Quenton Flickenstein before you are  getting this rx. ( and if there really IS a Thomas Quenton Flickenstein, my apologies for using your name, I just made it up right now.) And, if you dont recognize the person waiting on you, its probably a sure thing he/she doesn’t know you either, so please be nice and give us the information we are asking for ok?

Shortcuts are a dangerous practice.   They can be career suicide.

This ain’t NIKE:  Dont Do it.


I am scary!

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 8:17 am on Sunday, June 10, 2012

This time of year we have more float technicians that normal.  Numbers are up, vacations are up, so we have to request scheduling assistance more than usual.  We have a pretty decent core group of technicians that comprise the float team, but lately there has been an exodus from that team as “non performers” have been weeded out.  Thus, an entire group of newbies has been added to the pool.

Float team members have one very important requirement before they come to a store:  confirm their shift.  Its a simple procedure: call the store several days before to verify that YOU know that THEY know they will be coming at the appropriate day/time.  This is very important because no-shows have been a real problem.  Shift confirmation has improved this problem.  If I get to the day before a shift and I haven’t received a confirmation, I make a call to the office and request THEY contact the float and find out WTH is going on…after all, I dont have their phone numbers to do it myself.

Friday was such a day.  No confirmed float for Saturday.  Because I was the pharmacist for Saturday I was getting a little wiggy about the prospect of working alone so I contacted the office to find the float and when that was fruitless I started to execute Plan B ( not the tablets):  finding my own replacement in case tech was a no show.

Thankfully Tech Extraordinare steps up in such cases and made herself available.  I could rest.

Come Saturday morning I was relieved to see the float arrive, ( and notified the back up she could enjoy her day off) but I was going to use this as a teaching moment.

After a polite greeting ( I dont ruin anybody’s day immediately) and introduction, I asked the tech. ” did you confirm your shift for today?” and she rather meekly said ” NO.”   I explained why this REQUIREMENT was necessary, important, and why it shouldn’t be neglected. ” We can’t call YOU , we have to know that you are coming to this store, and it creates a lot of stress not knowing if you are coming or not.  I spent a good part of friday making a back up plan because you didn’t confirm your shift”.  ” are you scheduled tomorrow somewhere?”  ( yes) ” and have you confirmed THOSE shifts?”  ( no).  ” Then, please contact those pharmacies this morning.” I wasn’t disciplinary, I was kind but to the point..

She hastily started to count the work that I had set aside, but didn’t say much.  She was this tiny little gal with a meek demeanor, with all of 3 weeks with the company.   I am no giant, but standing next to her I looked like one.  We went to work and once she got caught up, I handed her the store list and asked her to call her next several shifts…which she did.

For a newbie, she did well. And I told her.  I dont withhold praise when its earned.  I had to work harder with her than an experienced tech, but that is expected with a newbie. It was ok. Later in the day as we were wrapping up, she said in her heavily accented english ( she is not American born)  ” This morning you scared me!”  I knew what she was referring to and I laughed and said ” GOOD!”

We enjoyed a smile over that but I said ” and I’ll bet you’ll never forget to confirm a shift again!”  and she said ” NOPE”

Its hard to convey in a post that I didn’t back her into the corner, shove my finger in her chest and rip her a new one.  I just friendly but pointedly reminded her of a procedure she had failed to do, why it was important, and the impact it had when she failed.

Maybe I should be scary more often…

No Purchase Necessary?

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 7:35 pm on Saturday, June 9, 2012

Because I am a pharmacist, I eat cold food and warm soda.  I guess that is what I have become accustomed to over the years of interrupted meals and cans of coke that are forced to last for hours.

One of my favorite lunches is a basic salad.  Bags of lettuce are sold everywhere with everything from soup to nuts included in the bag so salad making can be made very simple…and since I am often in a hurry, ” simple” is nice.  I toss in a bit of cooked chicken, some crunchy stuff, and some cheese and I am ready to go.

This day I opened my lunch and stabbed my first piece of lettuce and heard an unfamiliar sound in the bowl…a was a small plastic bag that contained some kind of instant win game piece.  ( of course, I didn’t win).  I briefly read the information on the back to find out what I didn’t win and was amused to see the first words on the top of the game piece:  NO PURCHASE NECESSARY

I found this amusing because in order to GET this game piece I had to tear in to a bag of lettuce.  I would think that the grocer might take some exception to me ripping into the bag of lettuce to grab the game piece and leaving the open bag behind…..

” But sir! it says NO PURCHASE NECESSARY!”

Not sure which would be more tossed …the lettuce salad or me–from the store!



The reminder call conundrum.

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 7:36 pm on Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Technology has a way of being the eternal double edged sword.  We love our computers but become slaves to Facebook, games, YouTube, and email.  We love the convenience of  cell ( now smart) phones, but as I have written before, I felt naked one day when I  left home without it, and fretted until I had it back on my person.

We love technology in the pharmacy a  point.  I would never want to go back to typing labels on the typewriter, and hand pricing every prescription.  And, CERTAINLY would never want to go back to the Universal Claim Form to which most contemporary pharmacy graduates have never heard of. I would bet decent money that if you have a Pharm-D after your name, you have never typed a label on an IBM Selectric ( the best in the biz) nor filed a UCF….and if you are a B.S, you may remember them both! ( and, if you work in a pharmacy over 20 years old, you may have one or both buried in your store room somewhere.

The cash register is a wondrous invention but even it has become so complicated a device that it takes days of TRAINING to understand and use it.

One of the newest technologies that PC Pharmacy has instituted is the “reminder call”.  Hailed as a wonderful device to improve compliance ( choke-cough-laugh) its main purpose is to nag  notiify patients that they have a prescription to pick up, in the feeble attempt to reduce the amount of return to stocks we have to process–which thru the new technology of AUTO-FILL has quintupled since its inception.

The Reminder Call goes out twice in  a period of  a week to the phone number of record and leaves a very generic message to the recipient that they have a prescription to pick up. Because of HIPAA, it does not state the actual patient’s name, nor the drug on the shelf. This leads to many issues…such as…

1) the inevitable call back:  generally starting about 15 minutes after the bulk calls go out, we get some back..  ” I just got a call saying I have  script…WHAT IS IT?” If we didn’t have auto fill, I could just tell them to quit being a doofus and pick up what ever they ordered…but thanks to auto fill, I have to trapse over to the shelf and find out what ever the Doe/Smith/Jones family has on the shelf.

2) the wrong phone number:  ” I just got a call saying I have a script there…I dont use your pharmacy!”.  We have to then do a search on the phone number , find the offending number, delete it, apologize and then accept that whomever’s RX is really there is NOT going to get that reminder call.

3) ” I dont need that”.  If I had a dime for every rx I put back because they dont need or want it, I could probably take a great vacation someplace.   ” Im not out”  ( compliance issue).  ” I quit that”  ( thanks for telling us)  “The doctor changed it” ( again, THANKS for telling us)  this becomes more common with certain drugs over others.  I personally would remove every single topical from autofill.  I would also stop most anti-inflammatories, eye drops, rescue inhalers and nose sprays.

4) ” I already picked it up”…of course they did..they picked it up about 2 hours ago and those calls were generated a 6 am in a corporate server go out at some determined time.  Once generated they cannot be stopped, even if they pick up the rx that very day.

5) ” quit calling me already”.  Well, here’s how this works.  If  you order a rx on monday, then order something else on wed…you will get reminder calls on EACH script you have filled on any given day. If you have all the scripts filled on ONE day, you get ONE call for the bunch. but if you get rx’s filled over a period of days, those calls add up.  I can’t help it…actually I can…PICK THEM UP.

But probably the most potentially awkward issue I face is when somebody physically comes in after receiving a call.  ” I received a call from the pharmacy to pick up a rx..Here I am ( big smile).  They have NO idea what they are picking up so we grapple with deciding how much information we have to collect/divulge in order to serve the patient…and preserve privacy.  This can be dicey in mixed families who share a phone number…  I will usually ask ” who do you pick up for”..and they will  say  “we have Sue, John, Mary and Mike Jones, and my mother Martha Doe  living here”.  So I go to the shelf and peruse for whomever meets this category. Nearly all HIPAA bets are off when somebody physically comes in to pick up an order.If they as for a patient’s rx by name, we can legally retrieve it, sell it and counsel the agent picking up the rx. They dont have to know WHAT it is…they basically only have to know that there is actually an rx here.

Dont think it can’t get exciting:

Sue comes in after getting the phone call and gets wide eyed when the pharmacist goes over to counsel on John’s new viagra rx…that she didn’t know he was on.  ( John, may I make a suggestion… pick up your prescription elsewhere or use a different phone number…or at least tell your wife you are ON viagra before she picks up your rx ok?…she wasn’t very happy when she left)  

Sometimes  a customer will lead us on like they just got the call today and when we can’t find it, they get all pissy.  It only takes a moment to discover the rx they were looking for was returned to stock 2 days ago…their ” reminder call” was tuesday…today is Thursday…of NEXT week!  People have such a warped sense of time. “You can’t have put it back, I just ordered it the other day..having been 2 weeks ago..

Occasionally we have the honest person to admits they just blew off our reminder calls but somehow thinks we are like a RX storage facility and keeps rx’s on the shelf like it was POD storage….” yea my doc called in something for me a few weeks ago. You still have it right?”  well. not exactly my friend…

But more often we get the indignant hand-on-hippers who piss and moan when we have restocked their drugs and deny to our faces that they ever received 1, both or any calls. You may not have listened to your messages, but the calls go out. Because the calls are automated, Ive learned a lot of people hang up as soon as they hear its a machine…and dont listen to its message.

Sadly, all rx’s are automatically opted  in to this phone notification system.  You dont opt IN, but you can opt OUT.  If you fill a rx at PC Pharmacy and do not pick it up after x days, you WILL receive that call.

Ahh technology…the creators of new problems for a new generation!



Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 7:14 am on Saturday, June 2, 2012

Cellphones are as ingrained into our society to the point that I just dont care anymore if a person in yakking away on them while I am counselling them. If they miss out because they aren’t listening, that’s their problem. But I was amused recently when I had been called to the counter to do a counsel on a “new” rx ( 180 oxycodone 5mg) by a relief tech who didn’t bother to look at the computer screen to see this guys profile is pain clinic oxycodone 5 every month ad nauseam, all paid for by Uncle Sam.

As I am getting to the counter Oxy Guy is on his cell phone talking to his buddy  ” yea, whatever, I’ll be there in a few minutes…Im just at the pharmacy right now getting my stuff.  (pause).Yea, I hate going to that Dr every month, there’s nothing but a bunch of drug addicts and loser trash there”

Take what you want from that…true story….no embellishments required, when that is what they say about EACHOTHER???