Recently I found a book that caught my attention:
Pharmacy Exposed: 1,000 Things That Can Go Deadly Wrong At the Drugstore, by Dennis Miller, R.Ph.
Having spent most of my adult life working in a pharmacy, I know all about the “things” that can go wrong. Those “things” pharmacists talk about among themselves but I’ve never found a pharmacist willing to publicly go out on a limb, and as the expression goes, “Let it all hang out.”
Well, that’s what pharmacist Dennis Miller has done and he is commended for his courage to tell it like it is. His book is a brutally honest exposure of what causes mistakes in filling prescriptions, and who and what must ultimately bear responsibility. What he says is true; I’ve lived many of the same experiences he describes. Over 750 pages, a sample of the searing content can be seen in the “Look inside” feature offered by Amazon.
Rather than attempt to explain what the book is about, I’ll let the author, Dennis Miller, speak for himself, as his statement appears on Amazon:
“I advocate a major overhaul in pharmacy toward one that serves patients’ needs rather than corporate interests, and toward one that places the health and well-being of pharmacy customers ahead of corporate profits. I have attempted to say what many pharmacists passionately believe but are afraid to verbalize out of fear of jeopardizing their employment. Too many pharmacists today feel that the chain drugstore model has been disastrous for the public safety and for the profession of pharmacy. So it is not surprising that many pharmacists are not recommending pharmacy as a career for their children.”
“The pharmacy of today that I describe is one controlled by the bottom line, in which cost-cutting is the core guiding principle. This singular obsession with profits causes the big chains to cut pharmacy staffing to levels that are a threat to the public safety. The chains have embraced the fast food model with disastrous consequences in a system that rewards quantity over quality. This is a system where pharmacists are forced to fill prescriptions as if they were working at McDonald’s, Burger King, or Wendy’s. It is a system where pharmacists too often don’t have enough staffing to adequately answer questions from customers. It is a system that cuts costs by hiring more technicians to do tasks formerly done by pharmacists. It is a system in which insurance companies erect an ever-increasing number of obstacles to dampen utilization while at the same time making policyholders’ and pharmacists’ lives more complicated. It is a system in which pharmacy mistakes are a horrific yet predictable and inevitable consequence of the chains’ obsession with the bottom line.”
“The pharmacist’s daily reality too often consists of arrogant doctors with some or all of the following traits: 1) notoriously illegible handwriting, 2) inadequate knowledge of drug interactions and a rude or dismissive attitude toward pharmacists who call about those potential drug interactions or questionable doses, and 3) receptionists who too often have a very poor understanding of drug names yet routinely phone prescription orders to the pharmacy. The pharmacist’s daily reality also consists of corporate bean counters who only care about numbers, and about how fast pharmacists can fill prescriptions. Pharmacists feel that their speed in filling prescriptions is much more highly valued by the chains than the pharmacist’s knowledge of drugs. The pharmacist’s daily reality consists of impatient customers who only care about how long they will have to wait for their prescriptions to be filled, and who seem to have no understanding of the potential hazards in the pharmacy and how common pharmacy mistakes are.”
“Ours is a nakedly profit-driven health care system in a culture that demands a quick-fix pill for every ill. It is a culture that prefers pills instead of prevention. It is a culture in which the public has been well-conditioned by Big Pharma advertising to salivate for the latest wonder drug. It is a culture of fast food in which pharmacy drive-thru windows are a threat to the public safety by creating an expectation for service that is as speedy as McDonald’s.”
Dennis Miller can be reached at DMiller1952@aol.com