Since they forced me to make the best decision of my life. It's been a year and a couple months actually and what's embarrassing isn't how my time at the chain that keeps it personal ended. What's embarrassing is that I degraded myself by submitting to their power for so long.
Because this is the kind of thing they did with that power. Twisted the arm of educated professionals to fill prescriptions that everyone knew, or should have known, had no business being filled.
Not that Rite Aid had a monopoly on this. Both Walgreen's and CVS have run into far bigger problems for pushing obscene amounts of narcotics in the state of Florida. How embarrassing. For the people there deluding themselves by trying to maintain a veneer of professionalism in those sweatshops.
To those I left behind in the chains and to the person at corporate headquarters who's paid to do a Google search for "Rite Aid" every morning and will come across this post I say... it doesn't have to be like this. You do not have to sell your self respect for a fat paycheck that is destined to get smaller as the pharmacist surplus turns into a glut. You have no idea how good it feels to wake up in the morning and not be beholden to their bullshit. I work harder, and for far longer now than I ever did back then. But I have a bottle of scotch in the cupboard that I haven't felt the need to touch for months. And my self respect. And I haven't slept away a day for over a year now. Because now the days mean something to me.
It is deeply embarrassing it took me so long to stop being a coward.
To those of you left behind, it doesn't have to be like this.
Original Blogpost Air Date, January 25, 2009
Updated: I Am Fucking Tired, So The Quality Of This Post Will Suck. But I Feel Bad For Teasing You. My Personal Story Of Trying To Do The Rite Thing.
Because at work I like to keep things personal.
I think most of us in the profession can agree that making an effort to not have our customers become addicted to benzodiazapines would be the Rite thing to do. Our duty as health care professionals even. I think we can all agree on that.
At least I thought we could all agree on that. Evidently there is at least one exception. My Pharmacy District Manager, with whom I really don't have a personal relationship. I've never met him. He was of no Aid to me when I tried to do the Rite thing though. Benzodiazepines are high markup items, so maybe he's thinking the company needs the money. He could be right about that part.
Customer wanted a refill of temazepam that was filled 4 days ago for a 90 day's supply. While the other pharmacy was being contacted to confirm said 90 day supply was indeed picked up, the customer EXPLODES, and contacts the corporate office. She managed to find the Rite number to call without much Aid.
It's taking awhile to confirm the 90 day prescription. It was dispensed from a big mail-order outfit. I don't have to tell you what it's like to navigate through an organization like that to even find a person, much less one whose head is not up their ass.
I should say at this point I am asleep while all this is happening. I usually sleep until around 2 in the afternoon.
I should also say at this point the Pharmacy District Manager ORDERED THE OTHER PHARMACIST TO FILL THE PRESCRIPTION. Ordered the other pharmacist to dispense a 30 day supply of a controlled, habit forming medication when there was reason to believe a 90 day supply may have been dispensed 4 days before. A Pharmacy District Manager ordered this, which makes me think he may not be the Rite man for the job. Or perhaps he needs some Aid in his position.
The other pharmacist buckles. Don't blame her. She's here on an H-1 visa and if she's fired she's deported. She's also a good person and perhaps the best pharmacy manager I've ever worked for.
In stumbles the Drugmonkey in a caffeine-deprived haze. The other pharmacist is upset and doesn't want to talk about it, then leaves. At this point, the refill Rx has been filled, just as the District Manager ordered, and is ready to be picked up. The staff fills me in on the situation.
Step 1) Grab that refill off the shelf and make sure it ain't going nowhere.
Step 2) Sharpen the Drugmonkey claws.
I called the large mail-order operation and found someone with their head nowhere near their ass. There is a person working at a large mail-order operation whom if I ever meet in the real world, I will take out for dinner and as many drinks as they'd like. They were able to confirm delivery of the 90-day package and that it was signed for. As Kramer would say, Giddyup.
Oh, and the two prescriptions were from two different doctors.
I called the customer to tell her we would be unable to fill her 30 day refill request. You know what the customer said? The crazy customer who went ballistic only hours earlier?
"I understand. Thank you for calling."
Do you know what my District Manager said when I told him this? After putting me on hold for half an hour? That we still didn't have the power to deny the customer an early refill. My conversation with the customer was far more rational than the conversation I had with my District Manager. That's the saddest part of this whole episode.
The conversation with the District Manager quickly devolved into a semi-screaming match, at the end of which I reminded my District Manager there was a poster in every pharmacy in the state of California that spells out in clear terms the circumstances under which a pharmacist can refuse to fill a prescription. Preventing harm to the patient is one of them.
"Send me what this poster says in an e-mail" Said The District Manager who has sent out dozens of e-mails to every store he manages telling them the exact place to hang these posters. This was his way of blowing me off and ending the phone conversation.
My first thought was that my District Manager was a rookie under pressure from above to kiss customer ass who had a decision to make and blew it. After this phone conversation however, I realized I was wrong. He is a smug, arrogant, cocky power hungry bastard who has turned this into a pissing contest for no other reason than the need to feel his dick is bigger. He also is not an unintelligent man, which concerns me. I'm used to District Managers being kinda dumb and overwhelmed.
At any rate, I spent Friday in a nasty flame war with my District Manager. If I get fired, maybe I'll publish some of what I wrote here. There's some good stuff in there.
That's where it stands at the moment. A District Manager for a major pharmacy corporation maintains he has the power to order pharmacists to give out early refills of controlled medications.
Again I ask you Dear Readers, who the fuck needs cable? There is drama all around. I'll keep you posted.
Update 1/30- After almost a week, the District Manager decided to say he did not, in fact, order the other pharmacist to fill anything. The other pharmacist had documented in the patent's profile notes, however, that the DM did indeed order her to fill the early 30 day refill. Determined not to let him slip out of this, I sent an e-mail to the DM pointing this out, and thanking him for teaching us the importance of documentation. A meeting was held between myself, the other pharmacist, and the DM. The District Manager claims it was a case of miscommunication. The other pharmacist maintained she most certainly felt as if she was being ordered to fill this prescription. I made the District Manager look me in the eye and say he did not have to power to force a pharmacist to fill a prescription against his or her professional judgement. Outcome acceptable. Situation stable. For now.