Like any other day, Mrs Smith wanders in to collect the scripts she has dropped off earlier. Today is busier than usual, you are down one pharmacist and as always, the stream of patients in has been constant. There is a tag on her basket that says, ‘Fridge item’, so you rush back to the fridge to find the bottle of Xalatan. As you hand over the bottle, you realise, the label has a completely different name. Back at the fridge, the top shelf is a jumble of labelled boxes and bottles. That was a close call and you ask yourself if it was a dispensing error or did you just get the wrong bottle?
Alternative scenarios include a patient has left the pharmacy, their medication has been left behind in the fridge or worse, the patient left the pharmacy with someone else’s item. At some point most pharmacists have been through a similar situation.
In each scenario there is risk, the customer perception of capability, harm to your patient which has the potential of ending in legal action.
The products stored in a typical pharmacy fridge has doubled in the past 5 years, yet the inclusion of fridges in a storage conversation are often an afterthought in most pharmacy designs or workflows. If your fridge storage is not working as effectively for you, here are five considerations on how you might be able to address efficiency issues:
Can your process for the collection of fridge lines be improved? It may be as simple as placing a note or stickers on the patient bag or basket signalling that there is an item in the fridge. With multiple items for a patient, consider something as simple as bundling them together or placing them in a basket.
Do you have enough physical space? Perhaps your business is growing and has exceeded the amount of available space and the delineation between stock and dispensed items is looking congested. Doing a simple check of the number of SKU’s and looking at dispensed items each week and order period will help you assess if you have enough space.
Can you improve the order within the fridge? Is there an allocated shelf and tray for dispensed items in the fridge and clearly labelled? It might be time for a clean out and tidy up with a little more organisation and thought being put into placement of items.
How are you using your vaccination fridge outside of peak periods? Vaccination fridges must be approved for the storage of vaccinations, however regulations allow that same fridge to be used for the storage of other fridge medications. 1
The number and frequency of fridge medications dispensed. If you are a pharmacy with a high enough volume, you may want to consider adding a smaller fridge into your scripts ready and waiting zone which will both speed up the collection of items and free up some space in your main fridges. 2
If you are looking for a business to help you improve your workflow through process improvements and design of your pharmacy, please give us a call.