Drive Thru Requests

Every once in a while we’ll get an odd request in the drive-thru. It’s normally for some random one off item in the store. Although we are not obligated to one of us will leave the pharmacy and grab said item. (We we’re given a list of items that you can purchase via the drive thru which we will go get. Although we were instructed we are not obligated to get anything beyond that list we normally will anyway just to avoid a bad customer review.)

So my story takes place about an hour before close. Random SUV pulls up and driver asks I can get an OTC item so they don’t have to come in. I ask what it is and it was something I never heard of before. (Two things to keep in mind: 1st this would be the fourth time this evening that I was being asked for an oddity item 2nd the drive thru speaker system is showing its age.) After a few minutes exchange I finally figure out what they want and inform them I would have to venture on to the sales floor to look for it and would be a minute.

I was gone maybe 30 seconds and the instant I rounded the corner to be able to see out into the drive thru again the requester had pulled a David Copperfield (Disappeared) on me. Just up and gone. Normally I wouldn’t give a damn, but I had already put some effort into figuring out what they wanted and seeing if we had it and then the potential customer just peaced out on me. (I was in the middle of other tasks as well.) To say the least I was annoyed.

Rare is the time we get to go above and beyond the normal requirements of our job, but when one does it’s superbly annoying that one couldn’t deliver. Could care less about the recognition just hate having my time wasted. It happens enough with things I have little control over.


Keep Your Head on a Swivel

Every year I see a greater percentage of people walking around like a zombie while staring at their cell phones. I’m convinced that in addition to putting on your clothes daily that some people will have to wear a censor harness so that their phone can alert them to when they are going to walk into something or they are about to get hit by a car. Let me describe what I observed the other day while out shopping with my wife.

While running back out to my truck because I forgot the coupons I got blocked by a mother and daughter leaving the store. (Both were on their phones.) While they wandered to the exit I was finally able to maneuver around them, but then I noticed what part of the exit they were head towards. The store we were in had both a set of push doors and a set of automatic opening doors.

If you haven’t guessed it they were heading towards the push doors. The daughter slowed down in time to realize her error, but because she never picked her face up from her phone, she walked straight into the security sensor that sits next to the exit. This then alerted the mother so she avoided walking into the door. Needless to say I had a good chuckle at their expense.

My point being is that everyone needs to be aware of their surroundings. There is nothing that important on your phone that it should facilitate you walking into a door or something worse. Catching that Charizard or texting your BFF can wait.

Epinephrine Pens

For those of you Facebook hero’s that have discovered how cheap epinephrine is by the ampule is now touting that everyone should be asking their doctor for a script of that and for a syringe please stop. I applaud your good intentions, but it truly isn’t a viable option. Pull up a seat and I will explain.

Yes, it is a cheaper….a lot cheaper. However, there is a trade off here and it’s time….that when it comes to the need to use epinephrine to counter act an anaphylaxis reaction there is precious little of. You see when opening an ampule of anything you first need to sterilize the top with an alcohol swab and then essentially crack the top off. (Each ampule does have an etched line around the neck to help with breaking it off) Even in an ideal setting you don’t always get a clean snap. (Since were talking about an emergency situation use you can most likely throw any semblance of a clean break out the window.)

Now that the vial is open remember to sterilize the top again. You must also make sure that before drawing any of the solution out of the ampule that you are using a filter tip needle on the syringe. Don’t want to draw up any glass shards. You may keep the person from suffocating, but failing to use the filter tip may result in micro pieces of glass being injected into a person. This could result in internal micro cuts throughout the body causing internal bleeding and/or high susceptibility to infection.

Let’s assume that you have done everything correctly to this point. (Did you draw up the correct amount of liquid?) Now you need to switch needle tips. (The filter tip doesn’t trap the glass, it just keeps it from contaminating the epinephrine in the syringe.) With the tip now changed you are ready to administer.

My point here is that again although this is a cheaper alternative it is not a viable alternative. It is a time consuming process in order to ensure the safety of the person receiving the medication. Which is why the brand name Epipen comes in the preset pens. Unless beyond the shadow of a doubt you know you can safely transport and maintain the integrity of the ampules, syringe, and needle tips don’t. You also have to ask yourself are you the kind of person that can maintain their cool to help administer the correct needed dose to save someone.

I’m sorry, but it is a much better idea to pony up the money from the pens than it is to try and quickly get through that process. Since I’m already on my soap box and I have everyone’s attention let me enlighten you to something that the manufacturer of Epipen doesn’t want you to know. THERE IS A GENERIC ON THE MARKET.

That’s right boys and girls there is a generic to Epipen on the market. It is significantly cheaper. (By a couple of hundred dollars.) The problem is that there aren’t enough studies out to prove that it’s an “AB” rated generic. To translate there isn’t enough data that allows for pharmacies to just change it to the generic that exists. When getting a prescription from your doctor for an epinephrine pen ask them to write it for just that. Saves time and money.

That way you don’t have to wait for congress to legislate something and you could start hitting the manufacturer in the bank account. Instead just lean on your legislature to start making inquiries into why the FDA is dragging their feet on getting the “AB” rating studies done.





I’d Like to File a Complaint

Now as most people know I am not a big cuddly teddy bear of a person when it comes to working in the pharmacy. As far as I’m concerned that type of personality has no business there anyway. However, I am professional, kind, empathetic, understanding, and proficient. Can I come off as an asshole? Yes, but you have to earn that response from me. I’ll stop blowing my own horn here.

A couple of days ago one of our front end managers had to come back and help us. We were pretty deep in the weeds. Said manager was given a script for a medication that wasn’t all that common so they did what I would do and checked if we had it. We did and told the patient 20 minutes. They left without incident. Patients spouse comes back later in the day to pick up. I had the good fortune of ringing them out and chalked up another quick and easy transaction.

Yet for some reason the patient had decided they needed to call and complain the next day. Stated that both my self and the manager helping us stared at each of them like they were common criminals. Now part of good customer service, hell just part of conversing with someone is to maintain eye contact so that the person you are engaged in the conversation and comprehending the exchange. Neither of us are sure were we went wrong because both customer interactions had no negative connotations in the immediate moment and was par for the course in the grand scheme of things.

At the moment no action is being taken against myself or the store manager that was helping me mostly because our supervisor knows that it was BS. My problem is that if incidents like this keep happening where we think we are providing the best possible patient care/customer service experience possible and then we get a complaint anyway decreases morale not to mention the willingness of front end staff to help us where our backs are to the wall.

What’s the Number for 911?

The advent of 911 for calling emergency services has to be one of the best tools created for the general public. Significantly more efficient than having to remember a 10 digit number in order to call for help and that’s assuming you have the ability and/or time to dial all ten digits.

I am writing about 911 because in the past year or so a private ambulance company charted by the local hospital chain has started advertising pretty heavily in our area. Which is fine by me, but the problem lies in the fact that part of their advertisement encourages people to not call 911 but to call their number instead. There is a litany of problems with this, but I’ll try and curtail it to a couple of key ones.

911 operations centers have multiple operators available around the clock even on holidays and if the local 911 center is overwhelmed for some reason the neighboring one can normally pick up some of the overload. As for the private ambulance company I don’t know if it’s just going to one person or multiple people. It is also unknown as to what their “call centers” hours/days of operation are.

911 also has a priority system built based on geographic location and time of day and day of week. (Not all towns have round the clock paid duty crews in my area.) This is so that if the 1st due for an area is out of service because they are already responding to a call, unable to fully crew their ambulance, or might be having their rescue vehicle serviced the next best option can be sent to the call for help.

Now I’m sure the ambulance company has some sort of priority system in place where they do know who is or isn’t responding to a request for services and which vehicles are crewed and operational and which aren’t, but what happens if a call comes in and there aren’t any available units. Is the person told they’ll have to wait? I know they aren’t going to be calling a competitor and asking for backup and I also doubt they’ll be calling 911 for said person either.

Please understand that I am not involved in FIRE/EMS services in any way, but I also know how to use common sense. I have talked with friends that are part of ambulance companies and have done some of my own personal research. I know the private ambulance company is trying to drum up business, but they are going about it the wrong way. There is an established and mostly efficient system in place in which people can call and get emergency help. Although I can appreciate competition, creating a separate entity along side 911 is not the way to break into the market.

There are lots of private ambulance and fire companies for that offered their services to other 911 response centers and started as backups in the priority chains and moved their up to first call. That makes sense to. Again, I get it, they are a business and trying to survive, but you don’t get to use a business tactic that could cost someone their life.

It’s Beginning to Look Like Christmas???

If you work retail like I do you have probably already seen some merch or heard the higher ups mention something about Christmas already. I know….nuts right? It’s 90 or 100 something degrees out and were already looking towards Christmas. Let me put it into perspective for you.

It was July 1 and I was watching from Pharmacy land the back to school stuff be put out already. A lot of students were barely 2 weeks into summer vacation and they already are getting that reminder that they’ll soon have to return. I’m starting to digress here, but it helps to illustrate my point.

At this point in the year the back to school section has been consolidated to half its original footprint and some of it even clearanced out already. Some of the top racks of the shelves have been added back on and the first round of our Halloween candy has arrived. With that candy normally some sort of Christmas stuff arrives. Now that’s not to say we are going to be putting it anytime soon, but it’s in the store none the less. It was explained to me that its part of the strategic stocking plan.

Bullshit! I’m sure in some small capacity it is, but as far as I’m concerned that stuff can sit in the warehouse until the week before November 1st. I’m not trying to be scrooge, but I’m not going to be in the Christmas spirit until after Halloween I don’t need a constant reminder that it’s almost time until then.

Have You Met….My Wife?

One of the things I am still adjusting to is remembering to introduce my wife as well my wife. I quickly shuffle past girlfriend (realizing that she was promoted to Fiancée) and Fiancée (also realizing that we did indeed get married) and get right to wife. It’s probably only a half second delay and to date no one has noticed.

Once I utter the phrase “my wife” in any context of conversation I have to give myself a brief pause and realize those words actually came out of my mouth. Now please before I get any further into the conversation please realize this is in now way a negative thing for me just new.

It’s kind of like when I get a new operations directive at work. Takes a bit to adjust to it, but sooner or later it becomes old hat and just becomes part of the everyday workflow or in my case everyday speech.