Thursday, June 24, 2010

And Another Thing........

I remember some years ago picking up a magazine at work that was primarily aimed at family practice physicians. There was an article called "Dealing with the Difficult Patient" and to illustrate the article there was a picture of a guy in a hospital gown sitting on an office exam table glaring into the camera with his arms crossed and looking thoroughly pissed off. The kind of picture that makes anyone want to turn around and run far, far away.

I know there are some people who feel they've always got to be a squeaky wheel to get the results they want, especially if they are fighting some faceless bureaucracy or rude desk jockey who's clearly not doing his/her job. I can understand that... but what bugs the crap out of me are the ones who DON'T PLAY BY THE RULES but get what they want simply because they are such well-known A-holes that no one wants to deal with them.

Like the guy who came in expecting to pick up a refill and was told by us that it was denied. He stared us down and kept saying "that's not acceptable." We went round and round and explained it was the doctor's decision and we're just passing along the information at this point. He finally stomps off to the doctor's office (who is in our building) and 15 minutes later comes back WITH A prescription.

That just bugs the crap out of me. We talked to the nurse later who indicated they had eventually buckled and gave him one month because the guy was always so difficult and put up such a stink. Something along the lines of "we've gotta keep him happy."

I really hate that. And the next time he's just gonna do it again. (Why not? it worked.) He ought to have been told, "Them's the rules, if you don't like it, go somewhere else." Jerk.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Call-Back

So this customer calls and needs to talk to a pharmacist. She then proceeds to rattle off a boatload of medications that she needs to pick up THIS morning, before she goes to work in the afternoon. I tell her there are many orders ahead of her, and I'm not sure we'll be able to have all of hers ready in time. She pisses and moans, and then asks if we can call her when they are ready. I agree, but then she says, "Well, there's really only one thing I absolutely need today -- I MUST have it, I am completely out."

OK, I tell her, we will definitely have that one item ready for you to pick up when you come in. I can't promise the other things, but we'll prioritize the one item you need and you can pick it up.

Now, imagine for a moment you are this customer. Which of the following do you proceed to do.... DO YOU:

a.) Stop in at the pharmacy on your way to work to pick up the item you desperately need and be glad you were able to get it on short notice.


b.) Call me back at about 4pm that afternoon, from work (and therefore now unable to pick up the prescription before we close) and shrilly demand why NO ONE CALLED YOU to tell you your prescription was ready? When I remind you of our previous conversation (which everyone else in the pharmacy can attest to) you remain pissed off, as it's all MY fault, refuse any alternative I propose (such as transferring the prescription elsewhere) and hang up on me.

I'm sure you can guess which option this customer chose. It's just like those phone calls we get where the customer says, "Why didn't anyone call me to tell me my prescription was ready??? I've had NO medication for 4 days!"

Really? You forgot how to use that telephone, huh? There's really no obligation on your part to take the bull by the horns and give us a call? Huh. I mean for crying out loud, every 6 year old has a cell phone nowadays.

I see Walgreens is now advertising 'texting' people when their orders are ready. Great. We don't quite have that technology just yet, and probably won't any time soon.

If people ask for a call back, we make a note of it and do it. And by the way, if I get no answer, or an answering machine with no identification on it, then the ball is pretty much back in the customer's court. I've got to move on.

But please people, take just SOME responsibility for obtaining that medication you absolutely MUST have today. Since you decided to wait until you were completely out, it would be nice if you didn't blame me for that too.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Drama on Both Sides of the Counter

When you're working long hours in close quarters you learn things about your co-workers in the course of normal conversation and chit-chat. I enjoy these conversations for the most part, although I'm not much of a chatter because I generally can't do that and concentrate on what I'm doing. I don't mind if people want to share stuff with me but I've never been one of those people who shares every intimate detail of my life with the people I work with. I guess I just prefer to keep some separation there -- that's just me.

I've mentioned before how filling prescriptions gives you a bit of a 'window' into people's lives. It's happened to me several times --- I've been working with someone and am impressed (maybe even a little envious) of how 'together' they are --- attractive, smart, personable --- then, I have the occasion to check one of their prescription refills, and I'm looking at a whoppin' dose of Prozac along with a healthy helping of Xanax or lorazepam on the side. Don't get me wrong -- it doesn't change how I think of them and I would NEVER comment in any way on someone's prescription --- but it reminds me that life often isn't as smooth as it appears.

I guess where I'm going with this is that the lives of some of my co-workers seem to be imploding --- divorces, child custody and financial issues being the primary issues. I just read an article entitled "Growing Up is Taking Longer, Economically and Socially." I think it's true. When I hear of someone getting married in their early 20's, I know that the chances of that marriage lasting are not good at all. It particularly bothers me when there are young children involved -- I SO wish people wouldn't have kids when their lives are unstable; I wish they wouldn't think having a baby is like getting a puppy --- but I digress.
I just feel like I'm surrounded by stories of people behaving badly and irresponsibly. People who just don't have a mature foundation and who want to walk away from their responsibilities with no consequences. Everyone encounters some misfortune in their life, but these kinds of things are "eyes wide open" situations that I think could have been averted.

It just bothers me, I guess. I've got the advantage of a few years over them. I'm a pretty practical person to begin with. All I can really do is offer sympathy and listen. I come home from work unsettled, though. Kind of a squishy post here, but it's something I've been thinking about for awhile.

Monday, June 7, 2010

I Lost My Mojo

Jeez, I'm out of practice. Granted, it's been awhile since I took 10+ days vacation, but after being back a few days my knees are screaming, my eyeballs are throbbing and I am totally wiped. I did a lot of walking on the trip, but apparently that means the body is now unaccustomed to just standing all day and staring at computer screens and assorted pieces of paper. I gotta get back into fightin' pharmacist form -- this is ridiculous.

In pre-pharmacy (and I'm sure pre-med, pre-dental, pre-podiatry, etc.) we all have to take stuff like calculus -- get through it, and never think of it again. I couldn't solve a differential equation now to save my life, but I think simple addition and subtraction is perhaps a skill they should emphasize more. We had one course in pharmacy school where we were allowed no calculators -- we had to solve those pharmacy 'math' problems the old-fashioned way, and BOY did people struggle with that course. Even if they knew how to solve the problem they would always make some dumb math error (and there was no partial credit). I bring this up because one of our narcotic counts was way off the other day. Still trying to get my mojo back, I stared at the log, re-counted tablets and rifled through old prescriptions before realizing that someone had received a new bottle of 100 tablets, added it to the 230 already in stock, and come up with a new balance of 490. Sigh. There's 20 minutes I'll never get back.....hopefully I'll get the groove back this week.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Me: 1 Volcanic Ash: 0

I was creating every possible scenario of what could go wrong on my recent trip (as I always do) and of course none of it happened and it was a successful and fun time. That pretty much does it for me as far as summer vacation (till the very end of August anyway) but I figure I miss the biggest crowds this way.

"Across the pond" I am struck by how much people do rely on public transportation -- trains and subways in particular. It seems like there is always a crush of people and the strain on the system has got to be relentless. There's always some sort of maintenance work going on and disruptions in service are an ever-present possibility. Not that we had any problems, but after a few days of being on the move things can get nerve-jangling.

In several of the train stations, as well as at the airport, I took note of occasional signs which read "Abuse of Staff will not be Tolerated", followed by a warning about said abuse and what penalties could be incurred. My first thought was that it's unfortunate such signs are necessary. My second thought was, where can I get hold of one of those signs?.... you know, for those special days in the pharmacy. Yelling at me because your doctor hasn't authorized a refill has about the same result as yelling at a ticket agent to get the trains running on time.

Ultimately, we just have to abide by that other phrase they use over there: "Keep Calm and Carry On."