Anyone with a computer, a high-speed Internet connection and a half hour can find scores of videos like this one. I found a really good one. ABC national broadcast with Diane Sawyer. It also highlighted an error at Walgreens, however, as you and I know, the problem is ubiquitous. ABC named Kroger, CVS and others. I could not copy ABC’s code to embed. I wonder what the problem is? Poorly trained techncians? Absolutely. We know that well-trained technicians make serious errors also. Idiot pharmacists? Probably not. Pharmacists working too fast, multi-tasking? Absolutely.
I did not have the time yesterday to showcase this letter in an appropriate manner. I was on a schedule and had enough time to copy and paste. The sentence that rang true for me was her criticism of the “financial bean-counters”. I added the word “non-pharmacist” because they have just about ruined this industry by thinking they can throw money at every problem and save that money by ripping the skin off your backs. I see a battle royal forming at Walgreens. The non-pharmacist bean-counting Masters of the Universe are going up against a faction that seems to be highly invested in tying Walgreens name to the providing of professional services. Cognitive services primarily. It will be interesting. Will the Masters keep in control until they kill the entire industry? That paradigm is dead and they don’t even know it.
An Oregon comment. If you have not read the recent article in “The Oregonian” (Oregon’s largest newspaper), scroll down. The next shoe to drop will be the drive-through. That is Jay Pee’s prediction. There are already strong local forces with direct lines to the media who want drive-throughs banned. If the Oregon BOP wants to stay consistent, they have to kill the drive-through. Every pharmacist knows that selling prescriptions at the window is just that.. selling prescriptions.. The drive-through is just a cheap dispensary. It is not possible to adequately live up to our duty to warn at the drive-through. Think of this: How can you counsel a young mother, wearing a wife-beater, with a tattoo of a penis-eating dragon on her left deltoid (I saw this a month ago) on her 3 year old’s first use of an abuterol MDI? It is NOT possible. In a case such as this, I have the technician politely tell the mother that she will have to come into the pharmacy so that the pharmacist can counsel her on her child’s medication. If they resist, the technician has been told to give them a serious look and to say, “This very serious, ma’am. You need to come into the store. The pharmacist will not make you wait.” So far, so good.
My compliments to the writer of this letter, for her courage. I’d speculate that she has offered the view that is shared by thousands of WAG pharmacists.
This was sent to a lot of Walgreens email accounts today.
It addressed to the CEO. It is hitting the fan.
As one of your fellow pharmacists, a customer, and a shareholder, I am
horrified by the direction Walgreens has taken under your poor leadership.
When he opened his first store, Charles Walgreen announced,“”We believe
in working, not waiting; in laughing, not weeping; in boosting, not
knocking and in the pleasure of selling products.”
That is no longer your philosophy. A good retail leader looks at both employees
and customers and tries to make the partnership workable and profitable.
Under your leadership, things have become progressively worse and there are
disturbing internal issues threatening the integrity of my company.
Your patients are not safe in your pharmacies. A five-year-old in Nashville
was given the wrong medication in spite of the pharmacy manager earlier
asking for more staffing to address the stress levels. Under your
leadership, medication errors have killed four patients and cost
shareholders more than $61,000,000 in verdicts against you.
Throughout it all, your staff is burned out and stretched to the limit except you and your
board, sitting in comfortable chairs, calculating how many employees they
can afford to lose or how many patients can leave or die before things get
Let me assure you that we cannot consistently, efficiently and
effectively deliver prescriptions medications SAFELY under current conditions.
And while your latest victim was curled on the floor of his shower, dying
from a medication error, you rewarded yourself with a 36% raise.
That 36% raise also comes on top of Walgreens losing Express Scripts,
Anthem, Caremark, and soon Medco, and others, costing shareholders over
$6,000,000,000 in business. You are sadly willing to kiss off over billions
of dollars because other companies will not cater to you. What arrogance!
In front of the cameras, you tell pharmacists that there is no quota, there
is no pressure to rush through a prescription, but when the press leaves,
the pressure comes out to up the volume. Dollars cannot get into the cash
register fast enough to suit you, and there is absolutely no thought to
staffing needs, employee hours, or patient safety. Medication decisions are
not being made by pharmacists, they are being made by non-pharmacist financial
bean-counters. They take raw data and decide that two minutes is a safe
amount of time to fill a prescription from data entry to pulling the
correct medication and counting the pills to pharmacist checking and
counseling the patient.
You are a pharmacist. Can you even pretend that two minutes is adequate
time? When was the last time you actually set foot in a pharmacy, let alone
worked in one? You have traded in your lab coat for a three-piece suit,
wiped the dust off your feet, and never looked back to see how the company
functions – or fails to function. Who are you serving? Are you serving the
shareholders, who have suffered billions in lost business and wrongful
Are you serving the staff, who are burned out beyond functioning?
Are you serving your customers, many who have survived
medication errors – and some who have not?
I met you once – and I am sure you have no recollection of that meeting. I
was totally unimpressed with your lack of leadership. I asked a simple
question and you responded that you would have to get back to me. The same
is true for company meetings. You insist upon questions beyond provided in
writing ahead of time. Has anyone ever gotten a straight answer from you
without your handlers cuing the teleprompter? And how does someone run a
company with absolutely no knowledge of it?
Please do not try to pass this off with some pre-worded answer about
rewiring for growth. Anyone in business knows that successful growth means
more customers and more employees, not round after round of employee cuts
and customers taking their no-longer-accepted insurance plans to your
competition. The Pharmacy That America Trusts is quickly turning into The
Pharmacy That America Avoids.
You have brought the Walgreen family name down and have a moral obligation
to resign. You have cost people their beijing jobs, and you have put customers at
risk. Let someone lead the company who can bring employee morale to higher
levels, provide courteous service to customers, and grow the business as Mr. Walgreen
intended, treating customers with decency and fairness, not
passing off a cut-rate job in Beijing, and treating employees the way you would want
to be treated.
Someone Who Cares
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