Friday, October 24, 2008

How to Make Your Pharmacist Happy?

We pharmacists complain a lot about customers and doctors' offices. However, I don't really think we're asking that much. Just a few simple things would make us very very happy.

For customers:

- Always have your insurance card readily available. This is especially true if you've never been to the pharmacy before. You wouldn't dare go to your doctor's office without an insurance card. Why do you come to the pharmacy without one?

- When dropping off or picking up a prescription, be prepared to give the address (and possibly the patient's date of birth). We don't ask this to annoy you. We ask to help make sure we fill the prescription correctly, and when you come to pick it up, we ask to make sure we're giving the right prescription to the right person.

- Pay attention to the number of refills and the prescriptions expiration date. Both of these are on every prescription label. Therefore, when you are out of refills for a maintenance medication, you can call us 3 or 4 days ahead of time in order to allow us time to contact the doctor to get more refills. If you're completely out of tablets, have no refills, and you call us on Friday after 5:00, we're going to be really pissed off.

- Keep in mind that pharmacies do not receive orders on weekends. If you have a prescription that needs to be special ordered, please call us no later in the week than Thursday. If you call us on Friday, we will not be able to receive your medication until Monday at the earliest.

- Never wait until you are completely out of your medication before calling in a refill. Call us at least 3 or 4 days ahead of time. I guarantee you'll be much happier with our service if you call us several days before your refill due.

- Do not under any circumstances stand at the counter while waiting for us to fill your prescription. For one, this is a violation of HIPAA privacy laws because you can possibly overhear some private health information for another patient. Secondly, it's just plain annoying. How would you like it if I came to your job and stared at you while you tried to work? Your prescription will not get done any faster if you stare at me.

- We love to hear: "I'm just dropping this prescription off. I'll be back in a couple days to pick it up." If it's not something you need right away, and you're going to be back to the store in a few days anyway, then just give us that extra time.

- Understand that we don't have any say over your insurance company. We fill type up a prescription and submit a claim electronically to your insurance company. We have no control over how much they charge you. If your copay suddenly went up, we have no idea why (unless you have Medicare Part D, and we can take an educated guess that you hit the donut hole). Don't get angry at us if your copay doubled in price from last month.

- On a related note... If your copay does double in price, don't ask us to call the insurance to find out why. It's not our insurance company, and it's not our prescription. If you want to know why the price went up, you call the insurance company. There's a number on the back of your insurance card... You know... the one that you're supposed to have on you every time you go to the pharmacy. You can dial it just as well as we can.

- We also have no control over your doctor's office. Trust us when we tell you that we faxed the doctor for that refill a couple days ago, and your doctor has not responded. In addition, when we tell us that your doctor hasn't called in that prescription yet, don't look at us incredulously. We're not lying to you. If your doctor called it in, we would have filled it. That's how we make money you know.

For doctors and their representatives:

- Please don't have minimum wage employees who can barely speak English call in prescriptions to the pharmacy. It is very important that the person calling in the prescription to the pharmacy has some idea as to what he or she is calling in as well as the ability to clearly communicate it to the pharmacist. Pharmacists are amazingly good at deciphering butchered drug names and poor English. However, it would be a lot easier if we didn't have to waste our time doing so.

- When leaving messages on the voice mail SLOW THE FUCK DOWN!!!! It's not a race. We're not timing you, and I promise if you take the extra 15 seconds to clearly enunciate, it will not set you back. In fact, it will save you time in that we won't have to call you back to get clarification.

- Again with the voice mail... When leaving a message, ALWAYS spell the patients last name (and even the first name if it's an unusual name in this country). ALWAYS give the patients date of birth. ALWAYS leave a call back number for the office. Any time the doctor's name can't be easily spelled by a 3rd grader, spell it. Even if you've called in 1,000 prescriptions to that particular pharmacy in the past, still spell it. There could be a floater or a new pharmacist who's never heard of that doctor.

- Prescribers... Please write neatly. If you're a doctor, you've gone through 4 years of pre-med, 4 years of medical school, an internship, a residency, and possibly more training. Somewhere among all those years of school, you were taught to write neatly. There's absolutely no excuse to writing so poorly that we cannot make out the name of the drug or directions. In addition, please sign your name neatly. If you absolutely cannot sign your name neatly, circle your name at the top of the script, or neatly print your name below your signature. We fucking hate having to guess which doctor wrote the prescription. It's an epic waste of our time.

- When writing a prescription, write out the patient's complete first and last name and date of birth. Simply writing "J. Smith" on the top of a prescription is not valid when you're trying to prescribe Percocet. I've even seen some doctors write "Mrs. Smith" as the name. How many Mrs. Smiths are there in the world?


Seriously... these are all easy things. Most of them are common sense. If patients and doctors adhered to these simple rules, it would make pharmacists' lives much easier.


NY pharmacy intern said...

The only other things I would add is for the customers is
1. If you tell us your "waiting" for the prescription, don't leave and come back 4 days later, it's really annoying to rush to process the script and then have you not there.
2. please pick up your scripts in a timely manner, I don't need to waste my time returning to stock, reverse the billing and other associated tasks because you were too lazy to pick up the meds, it's been 2 weeks already.
3. (Last one), Please, if you come through the drive up, we are not McDonalds so don't yell at me for some reason your doctor didn't call the script in when you just left the office 10 minutes ago. And while your at it, don't blow cigar or cigarette smoke in my face, that just pisses me off.

Shieldmaiden96 said...

I would add, if your pharmacy has automated refill by phone USE IT. I use it faithfully so as not to use up any more of the pharmacy's time than I need to. I braved the 'line' at my pharmacy (more like a loose confederation of the elderly with successively more intense feelings of entitlement, several of which jumped the line before I could open my mouth and take my turn) and it was so nice to blurt out my name and birthdate, grab my bag, and run when I finally DID get up there.

The Ole' Apothecary said...

Mike et al,

For you, I have a prayer for you to use:

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

You have written a very tall order for the public, especially because you are dealing with the breed of individual known as the CONSUMER. In the doctor's office, they are patients, but when they come to the pharmacy, they turn into another animal, or, if you will, they just turn animal, period.

Consumers treat store staff like clerks, and that includes the pharmacy staff. They don't read what pharmacy students read, so they haven't a clue about the 21st-century improved clinical status of pharmacy in the country. This was true when I was in retail, and is probably just as true today. I'm not saying you can't wish for more intelligence and cooperation among the pill-popping public, and get some of that. Yet, there will still be the mass of people who want their pills for free and want them yesterday, and do not give a rodent's rear about anything else at all. They are coming to get their drug supply replenished the same way they are coming to get their beer and cigarette supply replenished.

Chain drug store owners know this mentality, and they wave it on, like the man with the checkered flag at the Indy 500. They want those decrepit values to be satisfied. Hence, they don't care much for the rights and well-being of pharmacy staff. This is why The Pharmacy Alliance ( came into being, to protect the dignity, self-respect, and integrity of the pharmacy professional in the face of this comsumer wasteland mentality.

thetwitchytechnician said...

Do not tell me "now" when handing me a prescription written three months ago. I feel the nerves in my brain start to spasm whenever I hear that and am holding a scrip written back in january and it's september. If it's that damn important, why didn't you fill it sooner? Or at least bring it in so we can have it in your file for when you needed it, since it's so important...oy.

sickofstupidpeople said...

I have to emphatically agree with the DEA# 'advice'. Doc, it's the LAW! When I have to call to get a DEA#, and your excuse is that you don't want the patients to know it, and that we should have it "on file" all you're doing is pissing me off. If you, as a doc, are too lazy to write your DEA# on a controlled substance script, then don't write for controls.

ohladybug said...

excellent public service anouncement!