Pharmacy has always been an easy target for the news media in regards to negative news stories and sensationalism. With a journalistic history for ‘grabbing” the public’s attention, the profession of pharmacy makes for a variety of fascinating news topics on both the national and local levels in the media. Rated second behind only nurses every year in the Gallup Poll’s annual Americans’ Ratings of Honesty and Ethical Standards in Professions, there is no doubt that the pharmacist is highly regarded and trusted by the public as a whole, plus respected as both an individual and professional by the citizens across the United States. Perhaps this high level of positive public opinion regarding pharmacists and their profession is in actuality the reason that the general population finds topics such as scandals, robberies, drug offenses, theft, addiction and fraud involving pharmacies so captivating and engaging. With so many people now getting their news digitally on the Internet (as opposed to the traditional media outlets like television and newspapers), the speed of obtaining what is being labeled as “real time” information is exponentially increasing the number of negative news stories that the public is seeing about pharmacy on an almost daily basis.
Negative Rx News Stories on Wednesday (July 12, 2018)
Reviewing the news stories for just one typical day may help to emphasize the severity of the situation regarding negative media publicity and the profession of pharmacy. Using a simple tool called Google Alerts (that is provided by Google at no charge), one can obtain a daily recap of all news stories on just about any subject that you may want to keep current on. Receiving a daily alert on the word “Pharmacy” for this past Wednesday (July 12th, 2018) reveals that six (6) out of the top ten (10) stories regarding the pharmacy profession for that single day were in some way of a negative nature:
1. Pharmacy Tech Indicted in Hospital Drug Theft – In Springfield, Missouri a pharmacy technician at local hospital stole both morphine and the synthetic opioid fentanyl by replacing the narcotics with saline solution. Federal prosecutors indicted the Rx technician and charged him with two counts of tampering with a prescription product.
2. Pharmacy Raided in Fredericksburg, Virginia – DEA agents, Virginia State Troopers and the local Fredericksburg police raided the HnR Family Pharmacy and charged the owner and pharmacist with seventeen counts on drug offenses. These drug related charges included illegally distributing prescription medications, plus the possession of illegal drugs with intent to distribute.
3. Maryville, Tennessee Pharmacist Stole Pain Killers – The pharmacist admitted to having an addiction problem and plead guilty to stealing the pain killers for his personal use. He is charged with two (2) counts of the theft of prescription narcotics and one (1) count of transporting guns and firearms illegally across state lines.
4. Colorado Springs Pharmacy Robbed – In Colorado Springs, Colorado a Walgreens Pharmacy was burglarized by three men who pried open the front door after the store was closed. The robbery was very similar to the break-in that occurred the previous night at another Walgreens location just six miles away.
5. Kentucky Fines CaremarkPCS $1.5 Million Dollars – Pharmacy Benefit Manager Caremark was fined one and a half million dollars and placed on a one year probationary period by the The Kentucky Department of Insurance as a civil penalty for illegally denying reimbursements to pharmacists. A total of 454 violations were cited related to reimbursement claim denials that were issued to Kentucky pharmacists, plus an additional 38 violations where Caremark provided “inaccurate or inconsistent” information.
6. Oregon Man Charged With Pharmacy Robbery – In Windsor, a man was arrested in a pharmacy robbery after wearing a face mask and then “demanding” that the pharmacist turn over all of the pharmacy’s narcotics and cash.
Proactively Protect Your Reputation
The point we are making is that the majority of media and news stories that the American public is being exposed to on a daily basis in regards to the profession of pharmacy is predominantly of a negative nature. Every pharmacist and pharmacy owner must be proactively taking steps to protect both their individual and businesses’s reputations. Perhaps the negative picture being presented to our society and communities is a sign that everyone in our profession needs to take a long hard look at what we are doing and the way that we do it.
One can obviously make an extremely valid argument that the negative news surrounding pharmacy will not only continue, but will steadily increase rapidly over time. With the exponential growth of social media and its use by all generations of Americans, the resulting instantaneous “real time” information that is now available to almost everyone makes it imperative that each of be vigilant in protecting our personal reputation as well as that of our business. Once an individual’s personal &/or business reputation is tarnished, it’s almost impossible in some instances to clean up the damage. Even when the person or business is in fact innocent or falsely accused, sadly, the damage is already done.
Steps To Consider Taking
Managing the reputation of your pharmacy means being proactive. It means taking a hard look at how you are currently doing things and making the necessary changes to ensure that your reputation is guarded and “safe”. Here are several questions that you may want to ask yourself:
– Are my Policy and Procedure Manuals up to date and current?
– Are my P & P’s accurate in regards to how my business actually operates?
– Are they reflective of practicing pharmacy to the highest standards possible?
– Are my employees and staff properly trained?
– Is it perhaps time that you should consider having an objective and experienced third-party pharmacy consulting firm take a look? Sometimes being too close to your own business or operation can result in overlooking some things that an outside observer can clearly see.
About Healthcare Consultants Pharmacy Staffing
From major hospitals and healthcare systems to individual community pharmacies, HCC has been the nationally renowned pharmacy consulting firm of choice for over 28 years now. HCC can assist with expert advice in any area of your pharmacy business or practice. We urge you to contact us today to see how our Pharmacy Consulting Services can help you improve your business now and be ready for the future.
Healthcare Consulting has been a full service Pharmacy staffing and consulting firm that has been in business for over 28 years. HCC has been helping Pharmacies plan, prepare and deal with such crisis situations since 1989. Just a few examples of our services include:
– Development of Policies and Procedures
– Employee Crisis Training
– Inventory Management
– Pharmacy Management Consultation
With a full-time staff of in-house Pharmacy Consultants and specialists, HCC can answer any questions that you may have in all Pharmacy settings. Contact us on line or call us today for a Free Consultation at 800-642-1652 to discuss how we can help you.