Let’s stop drinking the corporate “kool-aid”

Collectively, our profession has an acute case of Optimism Bias.. According to WikipediaOptimism bias is the demonstrated systematic tendency for people to be overly optimistic about the outcome of planned actions.
I don’t need to expound on every thing that we let slide… short cuts we have allowed to develop … that we know is going to cause a med error… we know that more med errors that we catch before they “get out the door” the more likely that one will eventually “get out the door”.
We know that working more than 10 hrs a day and doing multiple days in a row and/or trying to get by on 5-6 hrs or less sleep is neither healthy for you and can interfere with thinking clearly.
Distractions are everywhere… including trying to hold it and not “pee your pants”.. Does your empty stomach “growling” drown out the sound of the telephone ringing, because you haven’t had a chance to eat anything? How much do we do to eliminate or keep them to a minimum?
Here is a study that demonstrates that multi-tasking actually wastes time.
Here is another study that suggests that only TWO PER-CENT of people can successfully multi-task.
Other studies suggest that the human brain can only perform TWO FUNCTIONS at once… trying to do anything more is counter-productive.
Next time someone from corporate is passing the cup of “kool-aid” to you to take another drink… THINK… if what they are asking you do to LEGAL? Ask yourself if you comply, is it putting patient safety at risk due to med errors or patient being non-compliant because of poor or lack of proper consulting?
Ask yourself if the person passing the cup around have the credentials, licensing to legally do what they are asking/telling you to do? – If you feel that what you are being asked to do is questionable and the person asking/telling cannot legally do it themselves… They probably are not aware if what they are asking is or is not legal.
Finally, ask yourself.. in a worse case scenario.. will those passing the “kool-aid” around, have any liability.. or suffer personal financial consequences if something goes horribly wrong.
I am sure that a lot of drug abusers started using drugs, convincing themselves with optimism bias that they could “control it”.. the same for people who continue to drink and drive and let’s not forget those who continue to drive and text or attempt to do a number of other distractions while trying to drive. Next time you are sitting stalled in traffic… could the optimism bias of some other driver(s) contributing to you JUST SITTING THERE ?
I know you are different… you can handle it… it won’t happen to you.. that is okay… the next time that you have a near miss with that med-error bullet… consider starting to checking your optimism bias at the front door when you go to work. Remember, when there is a med-error bullet that you failed to dodge.. your employer will continue on with business as usual… will you be able to?

One Response

  1. Interesting concept. Optimism bias. Where does the inherent optimism end (i.e. people are sometimes described as ‘pessimistic’ or ”optimistic’), and the tendency to ‘overly optimistic’ begin?

    Just as the phenomenon of ‘control’ with obsession and addiction can be describe psychologically, so too, can the idea of either a personality tending toward ‘pessimism’ or ‘optimism’ impact health and longevity in a psychological sense; that is, either pessimism or optimism can be considered a better or worse trait to possess.

    In any case, as a new grad in the late 80s, the idea of errors in pharmacy (and medicine in general) were typically attributable only to personal failure, an inherent negative character trait of an unfortunate individual. As I recall, there was a lot of built-in peck-order; the new grad kowtowing to the junior pharmacist, the middle-muddle, then the level of senior pharmacists, the boot-lickers, and then the boss (and cronies of the boss).

    The new grads made the errors, the senior level and boss never made errors. The job of boot-lickers were to take the new grads down a peg or two. Middle-muddle tried to huddle with the person for whom the error was pinned and try to figure out what went wrong, and champion the underdog to take the issue to someone a little higher up.

    Now, the new grads are on par with the bosses who’d achieved their status in the past through surviving the middle-muddle, time, and trial-and-error. As a result, there’s not a lot of dependency on tried and true results of ways to do things.

    To describe the pattern of behaviors contributing to a climate of unrealistic expectations and neglectful of basic human needs as overly optimistic is only part of the problem. Some of those blazing past the warning signs are us (or at least have the same RPh licensure), wanting to get promoted ahead of others while still wet behind the ears, or working with blinders in place as to benefits of learning new ideas.

    My point I guess is that I’d prefer to use the words like ‘unrealistic’ or ‘inconsistent’ rather than the phrase ‘overly optimistic’ (not being able to access the links above.)

    I’ve seen some burn-out, ‘gone over the edge’, and pretty unrealistic expectations in my time propagated by managing pharmacists over other pharmacists, separated from each other by distance ‘from the bench’ or perception that ‘clinical only’ is better than ‘distribution’, and other artificialities that seem to pit pharmacists against each other on totally opposite sides of an issue as dividing the profession.

    We should all know that anything can happen at any time; that we can anticipate and solve issues we ALL face only when we are honest (and not unrealistic or overly optimistic, nor terribly pessimistic) as we work together; and that we as pharmacists have a common goal no matter where we are working as pharmacists.

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