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Xrayser: I'd rather go through divorce than change my PMR system again

Changing the patient medication record (PMR) system is more stressful than moving house or a GPhC inspection, says Xrayser

“I just want to split a label for 70ml into two labels of 35ml!” I cried into the phone, my voice raised and echoing around the dispensary, while the staff put their heads down and got on with their work – or at least they would have if they had known how to. I’d been on to our PMR system's help desk for nearly half an hour trying to perform one of the simplest and most common actions in a dispensary, except that on our newly installed system I no longer knew how.

It’s said that a person will change their spouse more readily than change their bank, and I guess that’s also true of our PMR systems. It’s the fundamental bedrock of the dispensary and, in our ‘high knowledge’ profession, to be able to quickly and easily access information about our prescriptions is essential. So I should have anticipated a frequent appearance of Sod’s law when the installation day started with the engineer finding we hadn’t had the data from our old PMR system extracted in advance. The conversion therefore had us unable to dispense for over an hour, but worse was to follow once the new system was finally installed.

“Where are your returned EPS tokens?” asked the PMR trainer. “Did they not tell you to spend last week returning all the downloaded EPS to the spine?”

“No,” I replied through gritted teeth, “they did not”. Consequently the engineer had to remove all the newly installed hardware and jury-rig our old PMR system so that we could start returning over 900 repeat dispensing EPS tokens that were sat on our old system.

Additional problems with configuration and faulty hardware meant that the new PMR system wasn’t up and running until late afternoon and the trainer had only two hours left with us. Trying to tick off what should have taken half a day, her fingers whirred away on the keyboard like a virtuoso pianist playing allegrissimo, until suddenly it was closing time and with a cry of “just call the help desk for anything” she was out the door presto.

And so, at 9.05am the next day, I am indeed calling the help desk to determine how to split a label. “No,” I keep saying, “I don’t need to set up instalment dispensing, nor an owing or a loan. Have you never worked in a dispensary?” Of course they hadn’t. Which explains why the button I needed to press wasn’t the one marked “split”, but marked “add”. No wonder that after pointless calls to the no-help desk trying to split a label, I finished the day with a splitting headache.

They say the most stressful life events include divorce, moving house and GPhC inspection, but I would more readily go through any of these than change my PMR system again.

A long-running C+D contributor, the identity of Xrayser remains a mystery, but his irreverent views are known by all. Tweet him @Xrayser

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Pharmacy Dispenser/ Technician
Bethnal Green North, London
Salary: Up to £30,000

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