Monday, February 11, 2008

I've gone pretty emo lately, so here's a pharmacy post to try to make up for it

I worked last weekend. On Sunday, a woman came to the counter looking to pick up a prescription for her daughter. The day was going pretty smoothly up to that point, but as she made her way to the counter, I had just gotten off a 20 minute relay call with a deaf person that just happens to be a complete moron. During that call, a couple insurance problems popped up that my clerks didn't know how to deal with, so in my aggravated state, I had to figure them out. This is exactly when the woman came to the counter.

The clerk looked through the bin and couldn't find her daughter's prescription. Then she checked the computer. Nothing was filled recently.

"Her prescription didn't have any refills, and you had to call the doctor for more. If the doctor didn't call it in, it would be a disaster," the woman proclaimed, getting irritated.

Noticing how agitated she sounded, I decided to see if I could help the situation.

"I called it in a few days ago, so you should have been able to call the doctor by now," the woman said.

I started looking through our doctor calls. I found the slip for her daughter's prescription. It was for birth control. It was called in late on Friday after the doctors' offices closed.

"Ma'am, the prescription was called in late on Friday, so we can't get in touch with the office until Monday," I told her.

"Well, the office was open all day on Saturday. You had all day to call on it," she fired back at me in an angry voice. "This is really a disaster. What am I supposed to do now? She has to take it."

On normal occasions, I'd bite my tongue and act as politely as I could to her in order to try to calm her down. However, she picked the wrong day and the wrong time to point the blame on me.

"Ma'am... We have no idea that your doctor's office is open on Saturday. We usually do not place calls to the doctor (we didn't have the office's fax number) on weekends because most offices are closed," I told her.

"Well, you people deal with this every day. You should know," she shot back.

"We don't keep track of your doctor's office's hours. Next time, don't wait until the last minute to call in for a refill, and you won't have this problem," I responded to her in a not-so-pleasant tone.

She murmered something, then said, "well, what am I supposed to do now?"

"You're going to have to call the office, speak to the answering service, and have them page a doctor on call who will hopefully call in the prescription for you. Otherwise, there's nothing I can do," then I turned around and walked away from her.

She got out her cellphone and started dialing the office as she walked away in a huff. What a fucking joke. It'll be a disaster if she doesn't have her prescription.

A disaster??? It's fucking birth control. It's not like it's fucking seizure medication or heart medication. It's fucking birth control. Missing one dose of birth control will have exactly ZERO negative health effects to her as long as she keeps her legs closed for a couple days. Moreover, if it was such a freaking emergency, why wait until late in the day on Friday to call for a refill, especially when you know that the script had no refills left on it.

I'm usually as patient with customers as humanly possible, but when some idiot starts whining that we didn't call her doctor's office on a Saturday, one day before her daughter needed to start the next cycle, and proclaims it a "disaster" that we didn't obtain the refill, I won't stand for it. It's not my fault you suck at planning.

She wasn't the only bad customer of the day. The first customer that came to the pharmacy Sunday morning showed up with a bad attitude.

"I'm picking up for Hernandez." He was mumbling and chewing on something at the same time, so it was hard to hear him.

"I'm sorry. What was your name again?" asked the clerk.

"Hernandez." This time, it was less intelligible than the first time.

"Could you please spell that for me?" asked the clerk.

"H-E-R... HERNANDEZ! Haven't you ever heard that name before???" he said getting pretty pissed off.

The clerk affirmed that she had, indeed, heard the name before, but she had a hard time hearing him. He looked back at me, and I shot him the coldest look you can imagine. The look basically told him that if he said one more rude word to her, I'd start yelling.

I guess he got the message because he immediately apologized for being rude. Damn straight.

I guess the moral of these stories is that while I appear pretty passive most of the time, I won't allow someone to just walk all over me or any member of our staff. Most of the time an angry customer is a case of misunderstanding, and those are the times you want to stay calm. Sometimes though, the customers come in angry for no good reason, and those are the ones you have to put in their places.


Gail said...

Back when I was a teenager, if I was old enough for birth control, I was old enough to get my butt to Planned Parenthood to pick it up myself.

(Now, if she's like, 12 and taking it for menstrual whatever, then I take it back.)

Carol said...

Oh yeah! I have told clients that if they insist on yelling,t hey can leave. And pointedly folded my arms and stared at them till they behaved or left.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I wish we could have told customers off. Instead we have to do the subservient, obsequious apology routine. Ugh.
Sometimes wish my pharmacist woulda had my back when I was dealing with rude customers...

Gary said...

heh. thats always fun...nothing like people calling in for refills friday evening after all the doctors offices are closed. of course they have no refills and its for some controlled substance...joyous. i am in the same position as "anon" before me for the most part. unless the customer gets really nutty in which case the pharmacist will fire back.

NY pharmacy intern said...

Usually I just tell them I can fax the doctor again or call on monday. If they need it that bad or it seems to be a hold up, you call and complain to the office, I have other things to do. Its not a med that your going to die without, so either wait or do some calling yourself.

Anonymous said...

This kind of stuff happens all the time at the pharmacy that i work at, to top it off its located in afluent area in westchester(scarsdale)NY where every one thinks they own the fucking pharamacy. I had similar situation where i had to tell a customer(a cunt) that if she needs brith control so bad goto the emergency room for an RX!

The Ole' Apothecary said...

As the Fleet company says, "We have met the enema, and they are us!"

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the situation with the bitch's daughter involved a hormone problem, for which she was using oral contraceptives, rather than a family planning/sexual activity problem.

And, perhaps she was worried that the lapse in medication would cause her daughter to have cramps, excessive bleeding, and pains that usually would be controlled with the oral contraceptive.

And, perhaps she simply needed to be educated that a single missed dose would not cause a medical problem, given the half-life of the drug her daughter was using.

The pharmacy I use for personal needs will, on occasion, and at the discretion of the pharmacist, give me one pill of a non-scheduled medication while they attempt to contact my doctor for a refill, if in my own stupidity, I forget to obtain a refill order in time. Perhaps they're doing something wrong, but they know my history, know my profession, and know my character. In fact, it's a great argument for having a "personal relationship" with one's pharmacy, as a customer, because sometimes mistakes do happen and refills are forgotten.

I wonder if the bitch in your story might've been able to receive a single pill of the medication her daughter uses. Or, if educating her might've de-escalated the situation. Or, if a bit of empathy for her concerns might've been appropriate.

Pharmacy Mike said...

You can't give one tablet of birth control because they come in packs of 28 (at least her's did). With other, non-controlled medication, I have no problem giving out a couple tablets to hold someone over. In this case, it wasn't possible.

Moreover, she came into the pharmacy with an attitude problem and spent her entire time blaming us for her refill not being ready. It wasn't our fault she waited until Friday evening to call in her daughter's refill. It wasn't our fault she didn't realize that there were no refills left, and her doctor had to be called.

If she didn't point the finger of blame at everyone but herself, I'd have been more sympathetic. There wouldn't have been anything more I could have done, but I would have tried to be pleasant about it. Since she wanted to blame me when I had nothing to do with her "disaster," I wasn't going to put up with it.