Top Tools of the Pharmacy Trade

The number of sales calls I get for pharmacy-related products is overwhelming, and every sales person, of course, talks a good game about their product revolutionizing pharmacy and making my life way easier, bringing me tons of extra revenue, and flying me around in a white unicorn.

However, in all that noise and competition for my (and your) attention, there are actually good, practical products that can make your life in the pharmacy easier or improve revenue. I'm realistic about these products, so you won't see anything in this post about doubling revenue or saving you 10 hours a week, but they actually do help.

Before getting to these products, though, remember that there are a ton of forms, both in the Free Products section and in the Store, that can save you time by keeping you from having to make them. If you're just starting out, or really looking to streamline certain aspects of your operations, take a look. There's likely something there to fit your needs.

Temperature Monitoring Devices (TMD)

See this post for more information on selecting a TMD.

TOP CHOICE: The FridgeTag

The Healthcare Logistics TMD (see #2) had been my favorite, until I actually had to pull data off it and realized I needed a flash drive to do it. I had no flash drive in the pharmacy and was stuck calling our IT department, which delayed everything by about an hour. In the meantime, I had patients wanting refrigerated medications and was also stuck telling them I needed to investigate our refrigerator temps before I could release their medication.

Not so with the FridgeTag: this one has a built-in cable, which is a simple but lifesaving feature when you need it.

Another great feature is that the top of the TMD displays a mark at the top of the screen to let you know quickly if you've had an excursion in the past 30 days.

The primary disadvantage, in my opinion, is that is only lists an "X," or a checkmark, to quickly tell you whether the refrigerator has been out of range. It's true you can still pull that data and find out mins and maxes, but it's much better to have a min and max displayed (along with the current temp, which it does display readily) because even if the temp is in range, you want to know if there has been significant changes in temperature fluctuation.

I've had a refrigerator, for example, that was normally within 39 and 42 everyday, and all of a sudden it was fluctuating between 37 and 45.

Is it still in range? YES

Is it cause for concern? YES

I ended up pulling the meds and moving them to the inpatient pharmacy, and the next day the fridge had gotten up to 55. Turns out the thermostat in the refrigerator was going bad, and just completely failed overnight. The trend data in the min/max (combined with my own anxiety from dealing with so many excursions in the past) saved thousands in medications.

Runner-up: Healthcare Logistics TMD or Similar Model

The Healthcare Logistics TMD (Item 19195) is a great choice, and like I said my first choice until I had to actually pull data off of it. The pictured TMD is one from Thomas Scientific that honestly looks so similar it's making me wonder if they don't make the TMDs for Healthcare Logistics. Either one will work really well.

While both the FridgeTag and this one meet CDC requirements for a TMD this one, as you can tell from the pictures, more clearly displays the current, min, and max of the refrigerator.

In addition to the problem pulling data off of it, it doesn't display 30 days worth of data on-screen like the FridgeTag does. Those are the primary disadvantages. The 30 days of data, however, should be less of a concern if you're tracking your temps twice daily.

The bottom line on these TMD's: My recommendation is to always have two TMD's in the refrigerator at any given time anyway (the CDC only recommends one extra one on-hand for the facility), so next time I need to replace mine I'm planning on buying one FrigeTag and one Healthcare Logistics TMD so I've got the benefits of both, while still having my backup.

USP 800 Compliance

For more tips on USP 800 in the community pharmacy check out this post.

ASTM D6978 Gloves (i.e. 'chemo gloves')

One of the quickest and easiest ways to drastically reduce the risk of exposure to HD's while dispensing is to wear 'chemo gloves,' or gloves that conform to ASTM standards for impermeability to chemotherapy agents. These from Medline do the trick and they're widely available as well as cheap, which is nice. Your wholesaler might even have them or something similar.

Of note, if you haven't already, you should still be putting your policies and procedures in place, getting your staff trained, etc., but in the meantime at least get them some basic supplies, including gloves, to wear.

Deactivating Chemo Wipes

TOP CHOICE: Pharma-Surface Guard

You also need a way to deactivate and decontaminate your work area. Isopropyl alcohol does not do that and actually just spreads the drug all over the tray (you won't see it - but it's there!)

I used to buy Surface Safe 2-Step, but at least for me they're pretty pricey compared with Pharma-Surface Guard. Plus McKesson carries Pharma-Surface Guard under their pharmaceutical division, which makes it even easier to order.

Chemo Bags

Protect the pharmacist checking the final drug product and put the vial inside one of these chemo bags, especially if you're going to have the hazardous drug re-enter the workflow for the final product check. It also gives an extra layer of protection against trace contamination in other areas of the pharmacy.

Your distributor probably has them, or you can order these on Amazon.

Hazardous Drug Sign

No, it's not technically a "product," but label your hazardous drug area! For those of you who haven't read my