Day 5 - May 9, 2014

I spent the day in the vault today. The vault is where all of the controlled substances are kept and dispensed. It’s like an enormous safe. I worked with Judy, the vault technician and Andrea, the pharmacist who is on vault duty for the week.

Although there isn’t anything particularly spectacular about the vault, it is pretty awesome to be able to see the controlled substances. At CVS it is locked in a few safes that only the pharmacist has access to. I came to find that a lot of them have really cool features! For instance, the hydrocodone and acetaminophen 5-325 mg is white with pink speckles on it, and the morphine 30 mg SR is a beautiful fuchsia. Needless to say, I haven’t been desensitized to the “cool colors” that tablets can come in. Whenever I bring it up to a technician or a pharmacist, it doesn’t faze them at all. Haha.

The process of dispensing controlled substances here was something new to me as well. I’m not sure if it is just a hospital thing, or a VA thing.  They have the Script Pro in the vault that holds about 20 medications and the rest are on the shelf. When filling a prescription, it has to be double counted, and then the number of that medication that’s still “in stock” has to be documented and verified with the computer. So let’s say we are filling oxycodone 5 mg. That would come out of the Script Pro. After double counting it using a counter (they rarely hand count at the hospital), I would have to count ALL of the remaining oxycodone 5 mgs left in the vault and machine. This “in-count” must match the one in the system or we can’t move on. It makes it a bit stressful for the pharmacist working in the vault but it’s a pretty interesting system. This ensures we always have the correct count of controlled medications since they are so highly regulated.

I also learned about the rules and regulations regarding the DEA-222 (which is a form that is used whenever CI & CII drugs are bought or transferred), controlled substance ordering and inventory, and disposal.