Friday, October 30, 2009

Sometimes That Old Lady Isn't the One Losing Her Mind

In a pharmacy, this situation presents itself numerous times every week. Some old customer will come to the counter looking to pick up a prescription, except there will be nothing in the bin for him. Upon looking in the computer and checking signature records, we learn that he picked up the prescription he was looking for just 2 days earlier. However, he can't recall ever picking it up and swears to all that is holy that he checked his medicine cabinet a dozen times and that pill bottle just wasn't there.

Usually, this story always ends the same way. Several hours later, the old customer will call in saying he found his medication "way in the back" of his medicine cabinet. Thus, order is restored in the world.

Being so experienced with these situations, we were not at all surprised when the 82-year old Mrs. Smith came in one day trying to pick up a prescription that none of us could find in the bin. The computer said that it was filled 2 days earlier. One of our technicians checked the signature log and told Mrs. Smith that she had signed for the script on 9/25, the day after it was filled. Mrs. Smith couldn't recall ever coming to the pharmacy the day before. Nevertheless, the technician assured her that she must have it at home somewhere and implored her to check her medicine cabinet again.

A couple hours later, Mrs. Smith called the pharmacy saying that not only could she not find the prescription at home, but she had called her daughter, and her daughter said that they had been out shopping all that day and never made a trip to the pharmacy.

A different technician took this phone call. She also checked the signature log (which is a computer print out showing the patient's electronic signature and the date signed). The technician again informed Mrs. Smith that they she definitely signed for it on 9/25. Once again, Mrs. Smith was told to recheck her medicine cabinet.

"Mrs. Smith is really losing it," remarked the technician. "She really can't remember being here at all."

Two hours later, Mrs. Smith showed up at the pharmacy again. You can see she was getting noticeably frustrated. She swore on her life that she had not come to the pharmacy the previous day, and she demanded to see the signature record thinking that someone else must have signed it. Once again, the technician printed out the signature record. This time was no different than all the other times. Mrs. Smith's signature was unmistakable, and she signed for it on 9/25. The tech showed the signature to Mrs. Smith, and despite it being just about identical to all her other signatures, she was convinced that someone must have forged her signature.

Finally, the tech showed the signature log to me and asked if I thought the signature could possibly be a forgery. Let me note, that this was not a controlled substance. It was Benicar, a blood pressure medication. No one goes to a pharmacy looking to steal Benicar. I looked closely at her signature, and I concluded, like the tech, that it wasn't forged.

Therefore, I took the computer print out in my hand and approached Mrs. Smith. "Mrs. Smith, this is definitely your signature. You signed for prescription number 123456 on September 25... TWO THOUSAND EIGHT!!!!!!," I yelled out.

The entire day, we were driving this poor old woman mad telling her she signed for a prescription the day before when she knew she never went to the pharmacy that day. The whole day, we were remarking how terrible it was that Mrs. Smith was losing her mind. In reality, two technicians kept reading 9/25/2008 and thinking 9/25/2009!

I apologized profusely to Mrs. Smith (and fought the urge to strangle both technicians who put the poor woman through hell all day). I don't know what actually happened to the Benicar prescription that supposedly was filled 2 days earlier. I think we must have lost the label somewhere before it ever got filled. Therefore, I quickly filled the script for Mrs. Smith and sent her on her way. Fortunately, she was a good sport about it. I think she was just relieved that she was right the whole time, and she wasn't losing her mind.

On that day, an 82-year old woman proved to be sharper than the pharmacy staff. Lesson of that day: Don't automatically assume the customer is wrong.


Anonymous said...

Freakiness abounds. (However, it not that uncommon that I've seen when things get frantic in the pharmacy that someone signs the date as several years prior. Not everyone catches the mistake!)

Anonymous said...

Mike, you wouldn't happen to work at Target, would you? (email me if you don't want to say on the blog, andrew @ chronolink . net)? That sounds a lot like our signature retrieval program. It always displays the dates out of order, so it would be easy to make that mistake.

Pharmacy Mike said...

No I don't work at Target.

PharmacyJim said...

Mike, I have been humbled a few times in my career in situations similar to this. About all you can do is what you did....apologize profusely. Fortunately, I am very good at saying I'm sorry. I have had much practice since I am married.

Grumpy, M.D. said...

Maybe Aricept is right for you. Ask your doctor...