Monday, February 15, 2010

My Phone Avatar

There are many times when I pick up the phone during a really busy day and instantly regret it. I wish I could time-travel back 10 seconds and not pick it up. I wish I could instantly change places with a virtual representation of myself, who had plenty of time to take the call -- an avatar, if you will. I want my avatar to handle the following calls:

The historian.
Someone who wants to give me a long, leisurely story about anything that pops into their head -- long-ago prescriptions, surgeries, doctor visits, family issues, etc. etc. leading up to ( I assume) a question, if they would ever just get to it.

The number reader. Someone who just wants to give me a list of prescription numbers to refill, perhaps with a little extra information about each ("You'll have to call the doctor on that one") in case I am unable to figure that out for myself. They don't want to use the automated refill line, which was created specifically so I would have time to actually fill those lists of prescriptions and not have to be on the phone all the time.

The non-English speaker. After about 10 minutes of back-and-forth on the line, I've been able to ascertain your name and date of birth. Now we're gettin' somewhere.

The salespeople. This one really gets me. What in God's name makes you think I have time to listen to you?? Without identifying themselves, they ask to speak to the 'owner.' When was the last time you worked in a pharmacy with an owner ??? For me, I think I was in pharmacy school and did a rotation in the last independent pharmacy left in the state. Then, they ask to speak to the administrative assistant (??) or whoever does the buying. Strike three, buddy, can't help you. Or it's some drug company rep wanting to give you a long scripted spiel 'just to let you know' about some product and what tier it's on with such-and-such insurance and would I feel comfortable now recommending it? I hate being rude to these callers, but have any of them been in a pharmacy lately? Do we look like we can deal with these calls?

Please hold for my avatar.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Groundhog Day, Again

I know there are people way worse off than me right now, but I'm gonna complain about stuff anyway. It helps to get it off my chest. Maybe it's just the cabin fever talking.

1. PIGSTY PHARMACIES. Half eaten food, water bottles, pop cans, dirty dishes. Make it go away.
2. ENDLESS CHIT-CHAT. Worked with someone last week who wouldn't stop talking. Stop it! I can't think. I can't concentrate. No problem, I'll just do all the work while you are chatting. Why are you here again?
3. FAILING TECHNOLOGY. The computer system is slow. The computer system is down. The register is down. Why don't we just hang a sign on the door: Go Away, We Don't Want Your Business. How's that for a business model?
4. FOREIGN NAMES. I'm sorry, but you're going to have to spell it. Rattling it off and staring at me defiantly isn't going to get us anywhere.
5. GIVE ME YOUR NAME. Speaking of staring, announcing you're here to pick up a prescription and then staring at me silently isn't getting us anywhere either. I'm gonna need your name. Think about it, you'll catch on.
6. FLEX SPENDING CARDS. What a pain in the ass these are, and I know they make them that way on purpose.
7. ASKING ME HOW LONG IT'S GOING TO TAKE. Did you ask the nurse that question? Did you ask the doctor that question? Did you tell the doctor to hurry up because you have to get back to work? And when I give you my best-guess answer, don't argue or try to bargain with me. Believe me, this is no fun for me either.
8. AND OTHER THINGS THAT JUST IRRITATE ME RIGHT NOW. The main selling point for a pregnancy test is that it's the "easiest to read." What a great start in life for the kid who's mother is too dumb to read the test....
9. THE WINTER OLYMPICS (and the summer olympics) cost too much money. The Beijing Olympic stadium is sitting in disuse and rotting. What a waste.

I can't wait till spring.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Meaning of an Expiration Date

We get a lot of calls from people asking if some prescription they had filled a couple of years ago is 'still good'. I guess I can understand that question, but why does somebody call and ask if they can still use their bottle of vitamins that expired in March of 2007? I've had a string of these types of calls lately.

The fact that they have even looked at the expiration date indicates they have some idea of its significance. So I'm not sure what kind of answer they are expecting from me. Back in good ol' pharmacy school we were taught that for most pharmaceuticals under proper conditions, the expiration date is when they may have lost 10% of their potency. I know there were some studies recently that found many pharmaceuticals maintain potency well past the expiry date, especially if the packaging is unopened.

So yeah, if someone's in a really tight spot and they need to use a product, depending on what it is of course, I might say go ahead. But I get the impression some of these people just don't want to be bothered to buy another bottle, so they'll wait 10 minutes on hold for me until I can finally come to the phone and say, "Naw, I would probably discard it."

Just another puzzlement in the world of retail pharmacy......