Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Ball Drops......

It's the last (week)day of 2011. Things are chugging along fairly smoothly in the ol' pharmacy, until about 4:20 pm. And at that point things go completely, totally to hell. The phone starts ringing nonstop, because the whole world has discovered that:

a) they still have money in their flex spending accounts that needs to be used up before the new year, or

b) having met their deductible and having no copays, they really really want to squeeze in one more refill of their medications before the copays kick in again on January 1st.

Now, I'm not blaming anyone for wanting to save some money, but I do blame them for waiting until the VERY LAST minute to cheerily advise me that they'll be stopping by in 15 minutes. God, it's frustrating. And if they have no refills remaining (as is often the case) then they're stunned that I can't snap my fingers and make it happen. True, perhaps they haven't filled that prescription since 2009, but what's the big deal "I'm sure my doctor will OK it." And damned if some of them don't get on the horn to the doctor's office (apparently), because I start getting calls from exasperated nurses telling me to go ahead and fill so-and-so's acne medication one more time. The doctor's offices must be as sick of this as I am.

Also had one customer, getting on an overseas flight that afternoon, plop down a bunch of empty bottles and then proceed to get restless once 10 minutes had passed and we weren't finished. Only had a few tablets of one of his meds in stock -- it was a 'nonessential' so had no problems telling him he was SOL. In fact, even if it was an essential medication, I guess he would have been SOL.

The end result was standing-room-only in the pharmacy well past closing time. The Overtime Gods will not be happy.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Holy Crap, It's December?

I haven't been keeping up too well on blog posts lately, not because I've lost interest but I just can't freakin' believe where the time goes. Amazing how this leaving home at 7:30am and coming back at 7:00 pm cuts into one's free time.

I can't really get into Christmas this year. Each year I find myself less and less enthusiastic. The stores are full of the same crap and every sad news story reminds me that it's really just another day for a lot of people. Forgive me, but I don't really look forward to Christmas 'get-togethers' with co-workers either. Nothing against them at all, I just associate work with a different mind-set and it's hard for me to put it away when I'm looking at the same faces outside of work. When that gate comes down, I just want to get out of there. I suspect a lot of people feel the same way but are good sports about it anyway.

Seems like December 1st brought about some formulary changes for a lot of customers. I get the impression a lot of people are changing insurance plans in the new year and there's going to be a lot of confusion -- more than usual, maybe? People have been asking about generic Lipitor for weeks now, even delaying their refills till it came out. They thought the price was going to plunge immediately and wanted to know what their insurance would charge them for it. (Completely unknown to us!) We've had to caution them that they may or may not see a difference right away, and that has been borne out.

I've struggled mightily with more and more customers who speak little or no English. In fact I've become quite discouraged at what I see is a waste of money and resources in the polypharmacy for these folks. How much of a chance is there that they're going to use the
Pulmicort Turbuhaler or the Medrol Dose-pak correctly, and therefore benefit from it? I'm not saying they don't deserve the appropriate treatments, but they can't read the label (I can see them trying to 'memorize' the directions for each bottle) and I have no idea how well they understand my game of 'charades' as I try to demonstrate with hand gestures, because that's all I can do. (Plus, I've got these ridiculous SureScripts prescriptions that print directions even I can't decipher half the time.) I've watched people go out the door with bags of very expensive medications that I have no real hope are going to be used correctly. I don't know what the solution is, if the person doesn't bring someone along who can translate. We can't keep written materials in every language and for every question. I also suspect that it's a cultural thing for some folks to decline to ask questions, particularly of a female pharmacist.

I dunno, man.... it's just been on my mind. Hey, I'm gonna watch "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" -- that will get me in the spirit!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Ours is not to question why..... but why?

--- I put together a multi-prescription order for someone a couple of weeks ago -- several refills (had to order one thing specially), a transfer from another pharmacy, and two prescriptions that needed doctor approval. I remember the guy dumped it all on me over the phone and wanted to know how long it would take. We called him as soon as it was all ready. Then WHY, two weeks later, is it still sitting in the pickup bin --- UN-picked up?

--- a guy brings in several bottles, and complains that the generic brand of Ambien we filled for him does not work nearly as well as the one he got from Big Box down the street (he has that bottle too.) We do the usual back-and-forth until my technician notices that the Big Box bottle has his wife's name on it. We ask him, um --- is that prescription supposed to be for your wife? He seems completely mystified as to why we would question that, and continues to be confrontational about the brand that he got. Well, I'm still not sure how that conversation was supposed to end. WHY would anyone EVER take someone else's prescription medication? .....ha ha, I know, I know ... dumb question. But the whole thing was still our fault.

--- a customer gasps at the 10 dollar copay on her sedative prescription and tells me she does not have the money, nor does she have a credit card. While telling me this, she sets her tablet computer on the counter. She says accusingly, "Well I guess I won't be sleeping tonight." WHY..... don't I feel very bad about this?

--- I keep having customers telling me their medications were 'stolen.' It's almost always the controlled substances. Enough already. OK, even if it's halfway true.... if you don't have enough brains to safeguard your prescription medications from the neighbors, or your kid's friends, or your kids, the painters, the movers, your brother-in-law, the landlord, or any one of dozens of people who apparently go through your possessions and sift out the prescription for which they recognize the generic name as something they might enjoy.... then I can't
help you. And as far as leaving your entire prescription in your purse, or car........ WHY?