Letters to the editor

May 2, 2005

Regarding your March 21 Viewpoint on whether technicians should run the pharmacy computer, I have been a pharmacy technician for 16 years. I have been a certified pharmacy technician for 10 years. I take great pride in my career and that is why I stay within the guidelines of my job.

Regarding your March 21 Viewpoint on whether technicians should run the pharmacy computer, I have been a pharmacy technician for 16 years. I have been a certified pharmacy technician for 10 years. I take great pride in my career and that is why I stay within the guidelines of my job. I understand the complications of DUR interventions and that is why-even if I can decide to override an intervention-I still print out or copy the screen for the pharmacist to see in the final check of the prescription. I have all the technicians who work with me do the same.

What I find shameful is the handful of pharmacists who do not take pride in their license; instead, they tell the tech to override the problem. Not only is this unsafe to the patient but it can cost pharmacists their license.

I wish every company would create a policy requiring DUR alerts to be printed out for the final review of the prescription. This policy would save lives and time in the long run. Technicians may not have the same education as pharmacists, but I believe they have the same responsibility to the patient: "Do no harm."

I have been a pharmacist for 14 years. I work for a small company that provides services to long-term care facilities. I also provide relief coverage for retail pharmacies on nights or weekends several times per month. Prescription-processing software systems, as discussed in the March 21 Viewpoint, in which DUR and allergy/contraindication information is presented to the individual performing the data-entry step of the prescription filling process, were very common one to two decades ago. Most contemporary systems offered by vendors who have kept abreast of the realities of the modern practice of pharmacy have removed DUR and conflict alerts from the data-entry step for the exact reason that is discussed in the article-the step is most commonly performed by someone other than a registered pharmacist.

I am familiar with a variety of processing systems for both community and institutional use. The most recent versions of the vast majority of these systems have all moved the critical steps to a verification step in the prescription-processing procedure that can be performed only by a registered pharmacist. This allows each step of the process to be independently completed by appropriate personnel who have access only to the information needed to perform their specific task.

The data-entry step in these systems is simply that-information is collected from the patient and entered into the system. DUR alerts are flagged and directed to the pharmacist who is performing verification of the entered data. This separation of duties prevents the technician from being interrupted by information that techs are not qualified to process and allows the pharmacist to see each pertinent alert, evaluate its significance, and be focused on performing that task.

I would suggest that there are a number of software vendors who provide applications that bypass the sorts of problems presented in the article. If a pharmacy's current software is still flagging data entry technicians with DUR conflicts in the year 2005, then that pharmacy is either not operating with the most current application offered by his or her vendor or it should interview additional vendors to find a system that has kept up with the current manner in which most pharmacies operate.

William Pollard, R.Ph.
Kansas City, Mo.
wpollard@kc.rr.com

In his Viewpoint, Dennis Miller didn't refer to which specific pharmacy systems allow the practice of letting technicians skip through DUR alerts without the pharmacist seeing them. I'd like to make it clear to your readers that Intercom Plus, Walgreens' proprietary pharmacy computer system, shows the pharmacist all DUR alerts as part of the pharmacist's verification process. If Mr. Miller saw Intercom Plus first-hand in action, I'm sure the system's method for displaying DUR alerts to pharmacists would meet his approval.

Michael Polzin
Corporate Communications
Walgreen Co.
Michael.Polzin@walgreens.com