Structuring Pharmacy for Safety and Success

What do we mean when we say “Organize your drugs according to the way that your labels and MARs read?” It means that if your Pharmacy labels or Pyxis report says “Vitamin B1”, for instance, then you need to stock the items alphabetically in the “V” area. Do not put them under “B” or “Thiamine” and require that your staff be familiar with the choices you’ve made in the past. If you stock your Vitamin B1 in the “V” area you will most likely get the desired result – staff looking for slower moving drugs, and new staff, will be able to walk straight to the shelves and pick the correct item.

Go out to your pharmacy and listen. How many times do you hear someone say, “Do you know where X is?” You may be surprised to find that this happens every day in the pharmacy. Keep in mind, the potential for error increases in this scenario, because staff are rushed by their own inefficient system. In addition, if this is happening to you, it means your pharmacy is not as productive as it could be. You may think, “OK, I can save a few minutes here and a few minutes there, what’s the big deal?” The big deal is that when your pharmacy is truly busy, you will be slowed by inefficiency.

In a retail setting, a few customers may need to wait longer than what might be deemed as “reasonable.” Perhaps the next time they will have their prescriptions filled elsewhere? That will cost you money and affect your bottom line. In a hospital setting, this means that nurses and physicians need to wait longer than necessary for their needs, slowing down their care for their patient(s), ultimately creating a domino effect which disrupts the entire day for patients, family members, and staff.