Tuesday, January 5, 2010

My New Year's Resolution

I think my resolution for this year is for me to start calling things as I see them. This mostly applies to the pharmacy. I'm just sick of having to kiss ass and be ultra polite and "professional" in the face of people who lack any form of common sense.

Take for example the woman from this past weekend who flipped out at the pharmacy counter when she came to pick up her birth control that she called in to refill Thursday afternoon (New Year's Eve) only to find that we didn't have it in stock and had to order it for Monday. She completely blew up on us saying that we should have called her to let her know we didn't have it. We were irresponsible, etc., etc.

Maybe she's right. Maybe the polite and customer-friendly thing to do would have been to let her know. However, if we want to talk irresponsible, why the fuck do you wait until the day before a long holiday weekend to call in a refill for a medication that you seemingly desperately need? If it was sooooo important to you to take that first tablet on time, why didn't you give us several business days notice?

The answer of course was that she wasn't thinking. Thinking customers are a rarity. Seriously, doesn't it blow your mind when someone actually says that they usually call in their medications a week in advance? Despite the fact that I tell just about everyone to do this, it happens so rarely that I'm literally overwhelmed with joy when a customer tells me they actually do it.

I'm sick of having to apologize for shit that doesn't really matter and isn't really our fault. My responsibility is to fill whatever prescriptions I am presented with safely and accurately. It is not my responsibility to ensure a product is in stock at all times just so one particular person can call in a script and pick it up in the same day. It's not my responsibility to be tracking down customers in order to tell them we had to order something for the next day. Honestly, I don't care.

There are some exceptions, of course. If the out-of-stock item is something that skipping a dose could be harmful for the patient(like antiepileptics or HIV drugs for example), I'll do my best to let the patient know we're out of stock. Birth control? Not that important. A person can go without for a day or two.

Then there was the moron who called up to see if a prescription was called in for her. It was, but instead of being happy that her doctor's office called it in, and it was ready for her, she questioned why we never bothered to call her to let her know the prescription was ready. Lady, we filled 500 prescriptions yesterday. How the hell are we supposed to call every single person who had a prescription called in?

So... My resolution is that if you say something stupid, I'm going to call you on it. To hell with the motto "the customer is always right." Fuck that. I'm right much more often than they are. I work 40 hours per week in the pharmacy. I think I should get the benefit of the doubt.


Anonymous said...

I take a maintenance medication (thyroid) and I always call in for refills about 10 days in advance, because I know my pharmacy has to order my particular dose. The pharmacy has some computer system that calls me to say there will be a five day delay while they order and then calls back when the prescription is ready.

I'm amazed that everyone doesn't plan ahead by that much. What, you didn't notice the bottle was getting empty? Duh.

And thyroid patients as a group are kind of stupid. (I can say that, right? Being one of them.) So if I can figure it out, so can everybody else.

Anonymous said...

We thyroid patients may 'act' as if we're stupid (especially if it's time for an increased dose), but we know that if we miss our drug there isn't any substitute for it, and we ourselves cannot make ourselves more sharp, less frozen, itchy, bleary-eyed and forgetful, so we KNOW we should call in our refills ahead of time (figured this after several years of being on this hormone!!), and so are more inclined to call so far ahead that it's put away by the time we get to it... .

But, agree with Mike, there's a time and place for professionalism and short of rudeness to 'customers' there's no need to apologize for something that is not our responsibility nor fault.

(We are not so high and mighty that what we do affects the turning of the earth on its axis or the orbiting of the moon, so shouldn't be apologizing for patients' irresponsibility.)

Anonymous said...

You sound like me 10 years ago. I was at that point 5 years into a retail pharmacy career. Likely a little more worn than you are.

Here I was 5 years out of school wondering how I could have painted myself into that corner. I had jobs at fast food in high school where people treated me better. I would like to tell you I gutted it out and it got better but instead I quit. I didn't do the 2 week notice. I didn't have a heart to heart with my friends/boss/co-workers. I literally locked the door one night, threw the keys back through the counter cage and left that miserable world behind....

I have never felt better about my decision.....

There are times in one's life, hopefully before you get married, have kids, etc., where you must question if you can maintain the status quo. You sound as if you are at or close to that point.

I am not going to say what I did as that is not my intention but I want to let you know there are many alternatives to retail pharmacy.

Get out while you are young my friend.

Anonymous said...

"The computer should have given you an automated call." Not my fault if you ignored it, didn't check your messages, or failed to alert us when your phone number changed or your phone service was shut off. The computer calls when Rx's are ready, or when an issue occurs causing the the Rx not to be ready. It always stymies me when people ask "why didn't you call me to let me know blah blah blah?!" My favorite was when someone demanded to know why we didn't call him when his doctor failed to respond to our faxes for a refill request. Here's the thing: it's MY responsibility to ensure that your Rx is filled correctly. It's YOUR responsibility to ensure that the Rx is delivered to the pharmacy and to ensure payment for the prescription. Don't wait until the last minute and we'll be able to get most issues taken care of. People need to take responsibility for their own healthcare, but unfortunately, I foresee less and less of this in the future.

Anonymous said...

It is posts like this one, Mike, that confirm one of the many reasons I chose hospital pharmacy. Weren't you considering a job in hospital at one point? Sure, it has it's issues, as most branches of pharmacy do, but nothing could make me go back to the world of cranky irresponsible patients and never-ending insurance problems. Nothing. I applaud you for sticking it out as long as you have!

PS--Girlfriend update???

Anonymous said...

Cry me a river. Put up or shut up.

pharmacy chick said...

After 23 years in the biz, I can tell you that most BC users will call you right after they have punched out that last pill from the case (bang head against the wall). But one thing the PC does is call everybody when we are out of something. Give the customer NO RIGHT to whine when I say" I left you a message at 830 this morning telling you we were out". If they didnt get it, tough, YOU are off the hook.

Anonymous said...

nice post. thanks.

Anonymous said...

I so appreciate the pharmacy life blogs. It's a relief to read about these seemingly universal issues that arise in retail pharmacy. I don't think that I will ever be able to understand the behaviors of an uncomfortably high percentage of customers.

I had just started my shift one day last week when an asshole steps up - already angry - explaining that his wife's doctor had called in a prescription at the CVS across town and he wanted it done at our pharmacy. So he had the Dr call it into us. So...was it READY??!!!! I look up the profile and indeed we had received the order, but since it was a "refill to soon" reject it was placed on hold. Wellll-he's spun into an an immediate arrogant frenzy of outrage. "I did't pick it up there! Why isn't it ready?Why didn't you call me?!We have been waiting for DAYS!! sputtering,turning red,cursing about how he has a problem with us EVERY damn time....

I quickly enter our free of charge generic discount plan into the insurance profile, process the prescription with a copay that is probably lower than his typical one, and the pharmacist QA's it as the robot counts and labels.Less than five minutes - during wich time he walks down to glare at the pharmacist through the glass to ensure his own speedy satifaction. This was not good enough. He comes back to the register and contiues to lambast me for my "Rudeness" in not contacting his household to confirm receipt of this prescription, the refill too soon,blahblahblah,ect. I normally will not engage in or answer this type with anything more than a "very sorry". When in fact - the only reason I gave him the discount was to avoid calling the CVS to back out of their order, which would have him pacing,glaring,and annoying us further. But this time I answered in a calm tone of voice, "Sir, you knew that the prescription was filled at CVS. The only rude person in this is yourself. You should have called CVS and had them cancel the order. Then your order here would have been completed and ready when you arrived."

The urgent need that took DAYS for him to get accomplished? Meloxicam. The doctors office had to call it in to two different pharmacies. Two different staffs had to process it. CVS can now return it to stock. Written by a local doctor, two pharmacies 5 miles apart. Fat-ass couldn't just go pick it up and deliver it himself to the LOUSY pharmacy of his choice. Morons.

I feel better now.

Anonymous said...

I got one dick the other day that came by the pharmacy at 6 or 7pm. His MD's office had not responded to our refill request we submitted for him, a few minutes after he asked us to do so. He wanted to know why, after we contacted his MD for the refill, didn't we call the MD back a second time the same day to remind the MD to call us back.

Maybe it's because we're not yours or your irresponsible doctor's personal secretary you fucking bastard. Let me get this right: we place a call to the MD for the refill for you; if the doctor doesn't call us back within your unspecified time frame (the guy asked us to call around 2 or 3pm, the office closed at 5:30pm, he shows up at 7 or 8pm), or even forgets to call us back altogether, it's our fucking fault? Couldn't you've called at least a day before your designer sleep aid ran out? How many calls for the same patient should we have to make per day to satisfy you? Why don't you fucking call your doctor and take a little responsibility? We do 500 rxs per day, your doctor see's, what? 10 or 20 patient's per day?

We already have one full time intern, that we pay 240 bucks a day, who contacts the MD via fax or phone for anywhere from 100 to 200 pending refill requests per day. Every day (mon-fri)she calls for the same rxs that haven't gotten a MD response yet. Should we perhaps pay another 240 bucks so a second intern can make a secondary "reminder call", so the MD office doesn't forget to call us back? Yes, we should spend not only 60 grand a year for 1 secretary to make refill requests for your lazy ass, but we should spend an extra 60 grand a year to remind the MD to respond to our first daily request. It's only 120 grand per year. Never mind we're already working off of a 1% profit margin and therefore can't pay for enough ancillary help to make the job at least somewhat comfortable. Meanwhile the doctor has a nice fucking house in Beverly Hills and a summer place along the Santa Barbra coast.

But the thing that really gets me is as rancid, rude and distempered as these assholes are to you about stuff you have no control over, they will tuck their tales between their legs and act like a 12 year old girl who's come face to face with their favorite actor or pop star, when it comes to talking to their doctor. Half of them act as though they would tongue the doctor's ass through their cell phones if it were possible, just to show how respectful they and polite they can be to the guy that's going to hopefully give them the candy.

Well i could write a book on this, but will have to stop here for now....

Anonymous said...

"Birth control? Not that important. A person can go without for a day or two."

Fuck did you learn anything in pharmacy school?

Are you saying a baby isn't important? It only takes "a day or two" for someone to get pregnant.

Reorganize your word choice.

Pharmacy Mike said...

Fuck... Do you have any common sense?

Is missing a tablet or two of birth control life threatening? Does it put the young girl at danger of worsening a disease state?

No birth control for 2 days? Use a fucking condom. Or don't have sex for 2 days. Shit, this isn't rocket science.

Moreover, missing days in the beginning of the cycle are FAR less important than missing days in the middle of the cycle. Maybe if she missed 2 days in the middle of a cycle it would greatly increase her chances of getting pregnant, but not at the beginning of the cycle... provided she took it correctly after that.

And once again... She could use a fucking condom. Those suckers are 97% effective at preventing pregnancy.

So I'll reiterate... Birth control: not so important that missing 2 days is the end of the world. If she truly believed it was that important, then maybe she should have paid closer attention to how many refills she had left and contacted the prescriber and/or the pharmacy days in advance to make sure she was set.