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Thursday, October 3, 2019

Highway Hypnosis

Have you ever heard of the driving condition referred to as highway-hypnosis? It's a condition where the driver tends to "zone out" while operating her vehicle, yet manages to safely complete her drive. It is an example of "automaticity" which is defined as the ability to perform actions without consciously thinking about them.
Have you ever experienced this at work? Experts in a field constantly rely on their professional training to make quick decisions. However, when this rapid fire response is not called upon, the sharp acuity is lost. In an average day filled with the mundane repetition of "muscle memory" tasks, the professional operates on autopilot. Much as the driver would be surprised and miss a sudden emergency, (deer or armadillo crossing, a tree falling across the road, etc), a pharmacist could miss a serious interaction or pass along a potentially fatal error to the patient.

Is this what you want?
As a professional?
As a patient?
As a parent?
As a relative of someone who uses any pharmacy in this country?

Think about it for minute.
I have had a few conversations with some friends of mine recently who are still in retail or who moved on to greener pastures. We shared stories similar to this.

CP: What's one of your personal records for prescriptions?
CP's Phriend: I did 669 on a Monday with only 2 techs.
CP: Nice. Mine was 487 on a 10 hour Saturday with no overlap. We did 1059 the following Monday but I had 2 more pharmacists.
CPP: That's horrible.
CP: Right? How did you manage your day?
CPP: Like eating an elephant, one bite at a time. All I remember about that day was that there were pills in bottles. I had no idea if they were correct. When I got home, I remember hoping and praying they were okay and no one would call me the next day saying they died.
CP: We operated on muscle memory. Lots of repetition. At that pace and with the lack of help, the only thing we could do was trust that it would be a perfect day; the techs were on their A+ game and didn't make any mistakes and that if they did, I happened to catch them.
CPP: That's why I got out when I finally could. That was my last straw.
CP: How can companies justify putting their patients at risk like this?
CPP: Better yet, how can the State Boards of Pharmacy, sworn to protect the public from the professionals, continue to allow the pharmacies to operate like this?
CP: Touche. We, as a profession, are quiet. We need to enlist the help of the public. They should demand that their prescription receives all the attention it deserves. They should cry out to their media that the pharmacies are too rushed.
CPP: It wasn't like this when we graduated. People gave us time. Now they complain we are taking too long despite seeing the line in front of them.
CP: The phunny thing is, I know the majority of patients behave properly but the minority who adversely affect our day is growing rapidly. Each time they interrupt us, each time they distract our focus, each time they yell and scream, it takes longer to regain our sharpness which snowballs until we are forever behind needing to operate on auto-pilot.
CPP: I still love your post about closing the pharmacy. I wish the Board would mandate the pharmacist to be uninterruptible.
CP: It won't happen but one can dream. The companies in retail set us up for failure. They demand more from us but either give us no tools to accomplish more or, if they do, the tools are broken.
CPP: And they remove help yet wonder why they are continually complained about for service.
CP: Exactly. Unless and until the public become outraged enough to demand more from their pharmacies, NOT the staff, nothing will change and their lives will be at risk.
CPP: Honestly, if I didn't work at a pharmacy, I'd have a hard time finding a place to trust to fill my prescriptions.
CP: Sad. It's been good catching up with you.
CPP: Yeah. Better shift back into auto-pilot.
CP: Especially since it's now The Season Of The Shot and all the abuse that goes with it.
CPP: That's why I am in compounding. Good luck!

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