Negative Rx News

negative pharmacy newsPharmacy 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.


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Pharmacy Robberies on the Rise – Develop Policies & Procedures

Rising Pharmacy Robberies:

Although recently the news has been filled with stories about criminals finally receiving long prison sentences resulting from arrests in pharmacy robberies, reports show that pharmacy robberies are actually on the rise. In 2014, 829 robberies of community retail pharmacies were reported (this includes both chain and independently owned drug stores). According to the latest report from the DEA, 2015 is on pace to set a new record for the number of pharmacy burglaries and robberies. This is alarming after the trend seemed to be a decrease (745 in 2012 down to 713 in 2013). The DEA report is also very alarming in that it reveals that in the first 5 months of 2015 there have already been 382 armed robberies of pharmacies reported. Keep in mind that the DEA statistics do not include theft by pharmacy employees, which obviously is another area of concern in our profession.

Also of interest is the breakdown released by the DEA of the top 20 states for pharmacy robberies so far in 2015:

BlogChart

Many factors obviously contribute to the increase in pharmacy robberies, but the two most often cited are:

-An increased demand created by a growing prescription drug abuse and addiction problem.
-Economic return for prescription medications on the rise due to tighter controls and certain drugs being reclassified (such as Tramadol).

Experts all agree that there are two major areas for Pharmacists to concentrate on in preparing for potential robberies:

-Development of documented policies and procedures that ensure the safety of the pharmacist, staff and customers.
-Training of all employees on how to properly respond (and that training should be routinely ongoing and documented).

Are you and your pharmacy prepared to deal with robberies? Do you have policies and procedures written for your business and employees to act on if such a crisis arises? Do you have inventory policies in place to help determine what was taken during a burglary? Do you have training in place to help your employees in these situations that will minimize your possible liabilities? If the answers are no, then contact HCC Pharmacy Staffing to see how we can help you.

Healthcare Consulting has been a full service Pharmacy staffing and consulting firm that has been in business for over 25 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

Although we all hope that we will never personally deal with such situations, I strongly urge you to be prepared. Contact us on line or call us today for a Free Consultation at 800-642-1652 to discuss how we can help you.

Bob Miller
9/1/2015


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Pharmacy Technician Errors – Policy & Procedure Reviews

Policies and Procedures for Pharmacy Technician Errors:

Pharmacy technicians are an integral part of every pharmacy team. Whether in a retail, hospital, institutional or specialty setting, pharmacy technicians are taking on increasingly important roles with expanding responsibilities. However, as  roles expand, so does the potential for pharmacy technician errors to increase and prove dangerous or even fatal. The 2006 death of a young two-year old girl named Emily Jerry spurred the initiation of numerous intensive studies regarding pharmacy technician dispensing errors. In the 2006 tragedy, the conclusion was clear that her death was due to a preventable pharmacy technician error that took place. Basically the infant died during her final chemotherapy treatment after receiving a dose of an improperly diluted IV prepared by a hospital pharmacy technician. An investigation revealed that the hospital pharmacy was short-staffed on the day of her death, the pharmacy computer was not properly working, and there was a backlog of physician orders.

It is important to note that the above case took place in Ohio and resulted in numerous legislative changes. At that time (2006) pharmacy technicians in Ohio were only required to have a high school diploma with no certification or oversight by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy. The passing of Ohio Senate Bill 203, or “Emily’s Law,” in 2009 now requires all Ohio pharmacy technicians to pass an exam and to be approved by the Ohio Pharmacy Board.

Medication dispensing errors are on the rise according to many studies. A study released in 2006 (at the time of the technician error that resulted in the infant’s death) by The Institute of Medicine stated that medication errors harm at least 1.5 million patients every year. Another study showed that over 400,000 patient injuries take place in hospitals in the US alone due to medication errors. Yet even if a Pharmacist is “overwhelmed”, when pharmacy technicians contribute to dispensing errors, the pharmacist is still ultimately responsible and liable for the error.

If you utilize pharmacy technicians in your practice, when was the last time that you took a good look at your policies and procedures regarding their roles and utilization?? Are you following “best practices” and limiting the chance for potential medication dispensing errors (and therefore reducing your risks of potential lawsuits and bad publicity)? If the answer is “not lately”, then we strongly advise that you get a qualified Pharmacy Consultant to take an objective look at your policies and procedures! Being in the business of Pharmacy consulting for over 25 years now, HCC has been stressing for decades that addressing and preventing issues before they occur is the key to avoiding future problems and bad publicity that pharmacies so frequently encounter these days. With the rise of social media, digital mass media and internet “real-time” news, our advice that the old cliché that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” has never been more relevant. Although we all hope that we will never personally deal with such situations cited in the example above, HCC strongly urges you to be prepared. Contact us on line or call us today for a Free Consultation at 800-642-1652 to discuss how we can help you.

Bob Miler
8/18/2015


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