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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Double Counts

It has long been practiced in pharmacies to double count controlled medications (and soon-to-be controlled ones like Tramadol) just for fun.
Or maybe it's to ensure accuracy. Yeah, let's go with that. Accuracy.
In my years and travels, I found stores that were not so disciplined with this simple task.
Patients would frequently complain they were shorted.

Once a plan was established that called for double counts on all controls, this problem vanished. My techs would double count all controls and I would double count the C-IIs after they had counted them. They would also do a back count on the stock bottle. A funny thing happened along the way...our audits were always perfect and, should a mistake have somehow occurred, it was easily found by the next fill.
Also, when confronted with the fact that we have all of these counts in place to ensure accuracy, the patients' arguments of "you shorted me" stopped before they started.

Just to set this straight: Double counts lead to fewer mistakes, less inventory loss, decreased potential for internal theft (because companies always believe internal theft is to blame), accuracy on audits, fewer complaints from patients and less work fixing problems caused by a miscount.
(For those of us/you who have robots, how accurate are the counts? We always double count and find errors regardless of how many times we clean the cells and recalibrate them.)

The reason I raise this issue today is in response to a situation posed to me:

"I would like to share with you that we received official word from our uber smart corporate people that we are to stop double counting controlled scripts because we are wasting their precious time. I work at a big chain pharmacy with a robot that frequently likes to be generous with the Norco. Wondered your opinion on something like this. My pharmacist pretty much said F you, keep double counting."

If an error occurs, how much work do we have to do investigating how and when it occurred? How do we correct it? Would it not then be prudent to take the extra 9 to 23 seconds to double count a control the first time? Did corporate come in and do a Time Management study to evaluate where precious seconds could be saved? If so, am I really supposed to believe THIS is the best place to cut wasted time? Personally I'd rather see the long phone-answering spiel hawking vaccinations and other services cast aside...along with the closing sales pitch that occurs at the register.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Next thing you know they'll want us to count Amoxicillin and Bactrim DS from 500 count bottles into little vials of 4, 14, 20, 21, or 30 counts to save time with Pharmacy Winter only a couple months away. "Save time with pre-counted Antibiotics!" (Yes, I know it's not legal...do you think that matters here?)

1 comment:

  1. We live in a small town and the pharmacy here too frequently "shorts" us on our prescriptions. Sometimes it is because they do not have adequate inventory on hand. They are supposed to (their own system) cross out the amount printed and hand-write the number they are actually giving us. Their system also means that they charge us for the full prescription even when they "short" us and then we are supposed to call them every day until additional stock comes in so we'll know when to come to the store to pick up the balance. Many times they forget to correct the number on the bottle and we do not know we have been "shorted" until we get home and my husband counts the pills.

    Is this legal? I know it's not efficient and not good customer service, but is it legal? We are in Tennessee.