Thursday, March 29, 2012

Behind The Orange Curtain

There's a reason why they call it "OC".

Young and over-privileged teenagers are dying of drug overdoses in record numbers in Orange County, California. In particular, prosperous cities like Laguna Niguel, Laguna Beach and Newport Beach. Many of these tragic deaths are from prescription pain medications like OxyContin®. Is it easier to find drugs if you have money? Do "rich kids" have more temptation and easier access to these drugs?

Behind the Orange Curtain is a documentary that will delve into the staggering problem of teenage Rx drug abuse in one of the most affluent counties in the country. Here's the trailer -

Behind The Orange Curtain - Trailer from Lee Iovino on Vimeo.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Are You Hooked?

Kids, drugs are bad. And I'm not talking about that unlikely-to-be addictive marijuana or the often abused alcohol. I'm talking about the highly-addictive stuff that's even worse than nicotine, heroin, crack cocaine, prescription drugs, or even meth!

I'm talking about the life-ruining shit millions of people get hooked on every single day -

Source: Laugh Factory

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Hard And Fast

You don't have to be too smart or too tough in order to snatch someone from the brink of death. All you need to be to perform Hands-Only CPR is - hard and fast. But, don't just take my word for it.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Yogi Berra Of ALS

Difficult news can sometimes make us feel like our lives are over.

Diagnosed with ALS and given a short time to live, Ed Dobson reminds us that life isn't over yet and that we don't have to feel overwhelmed by the struggles we're facing today. Ed shows us that we don't know the future, and that things may turn out quite differently from what we expect.

Source: Ed's Story

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Poison Prevention Week

National Poison Prevention Week, the third week in March each year, is a week nationally designated to highlight the dangers of poisonings and how to prevent them. Here's an educational video.

Analyzing Bernie Madoff

Forbes contributor Todd Essig, Ph.D., psychoanalyzes the biggest crook in U.S. history (so far).

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Which Path Will You Take?

On February 6, 2005, the New York Times reported that Paul Kornak pled guilty to fraud and criminally negligent homicide a month earlier.[1] Kornak was a nonphysician employee at the Stratton Veterans Affairs Medical Center (SVAMC) in Albany, New York. On November 21, 2005, a federal judge sentenced Kornak to the maximum prison term of six years. According to a local report, "At least one veteran died and 64 others suffered unduly or were harmed by the forgeries, which involved manipulating their medical backgrounds so they would qualify to participate in lucrative drug studies ...."[2] A decade earlier, two pharmacists had warned that patients were placed at risk or had died because of similar unethical experimentation.[2]
This is the first paragraph excerpted from Jeffrey Fudin's story, Blowing the Whistle: A Pharmacist's Vexing Experience Unraveled (pdf) published in Am J Health-Syst Pharm. 2006;63(22):2262-2265. ©2006 American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. Posted on 01/03/2007

I thought I would mention pharmacist Fudin's story because of three reasons.

Firstly, because it isn't often that you'll hear or read stories of heroic pharmacists, fighting against the multitude of apathetic supervisors, unethical leaders, or criminal operatives found throughout the healthcare system, and risking it all to do the right thing. Jeffrey Fudin is one of those heroes, and someone whose actions I truly admire. He's the kind of pharmacist we should all try to emulate.

Secondly, because most of the abusive, unethical, corrupt, or criminal stories pharmacists discuss with each other usually involve retail or community pharmacy practice. If you've read any pharmacist blogs or Twitter posts, you'll see that the they tend to focus on the abuses suffered at the hands of the chains, the PBMs, or even their patients. Many pharmacists mistakenly tend to think that such abusive situations don't happen as often in hospital pharmacy practice. They do.

I also wanted share pharmacist Fudin's story because, also having worked at VAMCs twice in my itinerant career, I've found the work environments to be THE MOST toxic of any I've experienced, and the hospitals staffed with some of THE MOST sociopathic people (including a few pharmacists) that I've come across in my life. So, I can understand how pharmacist Fudin would, almost unbelievably, have to fight so hard, and against so many, when just trying to the right thing for his patients.

And thirdly, here's the worst part -

One veteran reportedly died because of these intentional crimes. Yet, only one of the perpetrators or enablers was held criminally-liable, and served (minimal) time in prison.

I can't help but wonder - were any of the supervisors whom dismissed pharmacist Fudin's efforts ever even reprimanded for their apathetic or unethical behaviors, are they still working at that one VAMC, or have they retired or moved on to other positions?

If you happen to run into such a supervisor, how will you react? Have you decided beforehand which path will you take when something similar happens to you?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Inmate Number 40892-424

Convicted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich never allowed himself to even think about spending the next decade of his life behind bars. Less than an hour before he began serving his 14-year sentence on corruption charges, he could hardly say that word: "prison." He still maintains his innocence.

With helicopters and TV news crews broadcasting his every move today, the one-time golden boy of Illinois politics stepped out of a black SUV, the Colorado mountains on the horizon, and just before noon walked into the Federal Correctional Institution Englewood in suburban Denver.

And wouldn't you know it? The Feds brought in someone to sing a song about it.

Sterilization For Human Betterment

Efficiency doesn't go unnoticed. In the mid-20th century (1930s-1950s), the country's intellectual elite such as doctors, geneticists and Supreme Court justices supported forced sterilizations. Their goal was to rid society of people labeled "feeble-minded" or "defectives". Needless to say, it did nothing to stem the growth of political corruption.

California's movement was so effective that in the 1930s, members of the Nazi party asked California eugenicists for advice on how to run their own sterilization program.

Source:California's dark legacy of forced sterilizations

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Wonder Hospital

When did the American standard of hiding one’s true status in order to project a desired image - usually that of rich, young, and successful - cross the line? Has corporate culture pushed us to the point where we can no longer consider ourselves ever to look good enough? Why do we buy into it?

The Wonder Hospital, a 3D & puppet animated film, is a surreal journey of oddity and empty illusion. In a mysterious hospital, modification of physical beauty is not what you would expect.

A girl's desire for superficial beauty leads her to chase after the luring 'after' images on a path of advertisements throughout the hospital. But in the end, she finds something unimaginable and irreversible, an unexpected journey that alters her perception of beauty.

"The Wonder Hospital" [Full film] from Beomsik Shimbe Shim on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Art Of Effective Negotiation

Seems to me that when independent pharmacists opened their doors to third-party reimbursements many years ago, that they just signed whatever contracts they were given, without reading them thoroughly and negotiating the finer details. Now, it's too late.

Had they just sat down with those corporate criminals, and learned the art of effective negotiations like our chain pharmacy brothers did back in the day, perhaps today we would be able to provide reimbursable individual pharmacist services, and not have to continually find and define our "role".

Overhead Clause from menoargenti on Vimeo.

Monday, March 12, 2012

There's Always Room For Cello

There's no one I admire more than creative people, artists, and inventors. They are the geniuses who really contribute the most towards a progressive society. I guess David Friedman feels the same way.

Inventor Portrait: Ernest Nussbaum from David Friedman on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Is Universal Healthcare Possible?

The United States is the only industrialized democracy that doesn’t provide health care for all its citizens. Of course, we’d like to cover all of the 50 million uninsured, but how would you pay for it?

In fact, we could. The consensus view among health policy experts is that Americans pour enough money into health care — a $2.6 trillion industry — to have universal coverage.

Source: U.S. Healthcare: The Good News | Full Episode: The Good News in American Medicine

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Pharmacy Editorial Of The Week

Sarcasm and cynicism isn't just limited to pharmacists. This week's award for funniest pharmacy editorial goes to that phabulously-warped comical genius, Dan Piraro, from Bizarro Blog.

Placebos require a fake prescription
CBS News: 60 Minutes video - Treating Depression: Is there a placebo effect?
Kirsch et al meta-analysis, 2002: The Emperor's New Drugs (pdf)
Kirsch et al FDA meta-analysis, 2008: Initial Severity and Antidepressant Benefits
Bloom, Floyd E counterpoint: Placebo Versus Antidepressant Review: The Emperor’s New Drugs

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Pharmacist Alcohol Use Statistics

I just came across this BBC report of alcohol use among pharmacists and think I may have found the reason why I've experienced such poor supervisory skills in the profession.

Hat tip: Fail Blog

Friday, March 2, 2012

Pharmacist Stops Robber With Bear Spray

How did this pharmacist feel about stopping the robbery? Empowered.


Failure To Communicate

I've read a lot of blogs, Twitter posts, and other forums over the years where pharmacists discuss working conditions, and I've come away with the feeling that most pharmacists haven't encountered the same type of outrageous supervisor behaviors that I've experienced in my career. I find it hard to believe that these type of things only happen to me. But, I'll share them anyway.

I remember one time about ten years ago while practicing community pharmacy in a very rural area, when a drug rep came to the pharmacy unannounced to "tell" me that I'd better be dispensing the Brand drug that she represented, regardless of whether the doctor wrote that substitution was permissible and when the patient wanted generic.

This rep was angry and caught me off guard, so I just stood there and looked at her while collecting my thoughts. She then gave me a contemptuous look, threw her business card on the counter and said her company had an agreement with my employer that they would always dispense her Brand dug, and that I'd better be doing just that. Then she demanded that I give her the records of all patients who were prescribed her company's drug, but were substituted with the generic version.

I kid you not! Like they say, truth is often stranger than fiction.

Of course, I told her to take a hike, that I wasn't going to give her any patient records, or explain myself to her. Personally, I wasn't aware of any company policy about this, nor was I sure I would comply with it if there was one. Thereupon, the woman got even angrier and said, in a threatening tone, that she was going to talk to my supervisor about it, and stormed out.

Yes, if I remember correctly, it could have been a Monday.

Now I don't know about you, but over the course of my career I've only had just a few supervisors who knew how to effectively communicate with their staff. Like I've said before, it seems to me that most supervisors are trying to escape working the front lines, have little or no management training, and will do anything to avoid being a staff pharmacist again.

It would seem to me that whenever there's some sort of disagreement in the workplace, the most appropriate response from a supervisor would be to investigate both sides of the story in a cool, calm, and objective manner. But, for the life of me, most of the supervisors I've had usually have done just the opposite, choosing to believe what was said about me without investigating or asking my side of the story first. I can't ever remember a time when a supervisor said to me calmly - "Hey CP, I've just received a [insert complaint here] and wanted to hear what you have to say about it."

Pretty simple, huh?

Here I am trying to provide the best patient care I can, to get along with everyone, to be successful, and to make both my supervisors and my employer look good. You would think that my efforts would be rewarded with a little professional courtesy in return, but no. My supervisor in this instance came in and reemed me a new one in front of my techs without ever once asking me what happened.

The conversation went all downhill from there, and with it somehow being my fault.

Truthfully, I'm very easy to get along with and would prefer to get along with everyone else. But once you cross the line by abusing me, especially without provocation, there's no going back. And it's all because of a failure to communicate appropriately. Needless to say, my rose-colored glasses lost more of their tint after this incident and I gave a two-week notice to move on to my next adventure.