Thursday, January 19, 2012

Highlights From The Week's Pill Counting Action. New Year, New Drugmonkey.

I don't know if it's Zen or apathy, but a peaceful calm overcame me when the customer asked me if it was normal that his albuterol inhaler didn't work. A few weeks ago I would have felt the need to point out to the Einstein, that no, the plan generally is for albuterol inhalers to be manufactured in such a way that they are functional, and if his was not, then that would not be normal at all. As it was I simply reprinted a label while Einstein was going into great detail about how when he pressed down on the canister nothing came out, and by the time he was ready to take it out of the box and show me I simply handed him another without a word. He looked disappointed that I had cheated him out of some of his planned bitching time.

The next customer at the register complained that there was only one of a "buy one get one free" item on the shelf and instead of following my employer's incredibly bureaucratic rain check process, I just told Supertech to ring it up as half off.  Who am I kidding. It's definitely apathy, and the irony is it allows me to provide a superior customer experience.

Not at all like the good mother who came in to pay for her son's prescription. She definitely wasn't apathetic. Her 24 year old son by the way. An age when I had a pharmacy license and would never have thought to ask Mommy to help run my life. They stood there together, mother and man-child, as Supertech asked for the patient's date of birth. The date of birth has to be put in the register so it can check that you're selling the prescription to the right person. The man-child mumbled something that no one could hear. When Supertech asked him to repeat it Mother exploded.



"SHE CAN DIE!!!!!!!! DO YOU HEAR ME???? SHE CAN DIE!!!!!!!"

There really aren't any size capital letters than can properly convey the volume of Mother's yelling. She left the store with man-child three steps behind. I wanted to see how heartless this woman was and went over to see the prescription. It was for Ambien. No biggie. I went back to being apathetic.

We have a pharmacist who comes in periodically who is a stickler about having instructions on prescription labels read exactly as the doctor wrote them. She worked the other day, as evidenced by this phone call I took:

"Is this the pharmacist?"


"I got my Viagra prescription filled the other day and it says to take as needed for ED. Who's Ed?"

I was hoping that maybe the man thought we had given him someone else's prescription and not that we were questioning his commitment to his partner or Ed's attractiveness. Being apathetic makes these situations easier because all you have to do is explain to the nice customer that ED stands for erectile dysfunction. I should have become more apathetic long ago.

A man asked me the best thing for the pulled muscle in his back and I said Aleve. I always go with Aleve for muscle pain because I know that it has actually been shown to work better for menstrual pain than other NSAID's, and since woman pain has to do with muscle cramping, you might as well go for it when other muscles are involved as well. I'm not sure if there's any evidence to back that up, but it's a plausible enough theory, and probably more clinical thought than you're gonna get from the average "doctor" of pharmacy working a retail assembly line.

"Cause I'm here working up on the roof and I kinda felt this twinge while I was going up the ladder"

"I'd try the Aleve"

"Yeah? Cause by the time I got up there I could feel this knot"

"I think the Aleve should do the job for you"

I decided to make a game out of how many ways I could suggest he try Aleve. After awhile I boiled it down to just one word.


A final confirmation was still required.


That would have really bothered me at one time, but apathy is freedom.

Later on I came up with an idea that might just be a game changer for retail pharmacy. What if insurance companies started gathering the information required to file a claim, and printing it on some sort of card, like a driver's license, that a person could carry around with them and have ready to show when they needed health care services? Imagine it, I mean who would want to just spout off whatever bits and pieces of random information that pops into their head or write a few numbers on a postage size piece of paper to carry around if they had this "card" option? Customers would overwhelmingly make the choice to make their life easier if only they had a way.......


OK, I'm going back to being apathetic now. Because thinking about stuff like that is a sure ticket back to depression.



sardonic_sob said...

"It's definitely apathy, and the irony is it allows me to provide a superior customer experience," sounds like a more modern version of, "It's amazing how much 'mature wisdom' resembles being too tired."

Thom Foolery said...

You describe retail so well, DM. From the wealthy twits whose inquiry consists of one hostile word ("cookbooks?!") to the imbecilic parents who watch their children crawl over sales associates like they were jungle gyms ("Sebbie, it's not nice to punch people in the privates"), from the empty-nesters who natter on and on and on until their batteries finally die to those who are so timid that they never can finish a thought, because they cut themselves off in mid-sentence, every sentence. You nail it!

Anonymous said...

My head hurts just to think of all that pent-up frustration. Bwwwaaa. I wnnt to go back to bed and sleep for another day.

Anonymous said...

You cannot fix stupid, but you can feed it a diet of its own logic until it chokes up and goes away. But a little part of you dies in the process.

bcmigal said...

I would like a strip on the insurance card to scan, or a barcode scanner app like the one for a smartphone. All the info would then transmit to our computer. How hard is that to come up with?? I guess that would make it too easy.

pharmaciststeve said...

@bcmigal .. what you suggested.. having an insurance card..much like your VISA/MC/Amex has been on pharmacy's agenda since pharmacy computers started appearing in the late 70's. You are probably not old enough to remember all the different paper forms we had - each with a different format... each was provide by the insurance company at no charge. It took us years to get a UCF (Universal Claim form - in case you missed that one to).. the final and longest argument/concern by the insurance industry that one insurance company would be paying for and sending out forms that would be sent to other insurance companies for claims... the final compromise... pharmacies would BUY the claim forms $0.01 each and the insurance companies would reimburse $0.01 for each claim paid using the form.
The collective IQ of the committee that came up with that compromise.. must have been HUGE

Anonymous said...

Manchild must have been driving the 2011 car I am renting. I skidded on snow today, so the dashboard lit up with a "skid" light in the form of the "slippery when wet" symbol. i've been driving in winter weather for several decades now, and I have never thought, "Gee, I wish there was a warning light for this." Also, the dashboard counts down (I kid you not) the number of miles to EMPTY. Hey, Chrysler Corp., I can read your gas gauge just fine: have you identified a generation that can't read analog gauges? Stick a fork in yourself, America. You're done.

bcmigal said...

The "skidding car" icon means that the Electronic Stability Control has kicked in. Although this is not a substitute for safe driving, it is estimated to help reduce the incidence of crashes, especially rollovers by 30 to 50%. It involves several sensors to help with steering, braking,acceleration, etc. You can disable it if you want, but it will default to "on" when the ignition is restarted. I believe it is required on all 2012 passenger cars.

StMarc said...

I admit at first glance that an "ESB ACTIVE" icon seems kind of stupid: your average driver, it is fervently to be hoped, is aware of when they are driving in slippery conditions.

However, because of the nature of what ESB does, like four-wheel drive, it can get you into situations you might not have got yourself into without it if you're not paying attention. It can reduce the effect of slippery road surfaces to the extent that you don't realize your wheels are slipping. You may then attempt to apply additional power and/or steering input which will put the car into an uncontrolled skid, ESB or not, which you would never have done had you realized your wheels were actively slipping. (Yet another example of a safety feature that makes the user less conscious of the actual danger it is designed to ameliorate.)

That light doesn't mean "ESB ACTIVE," what it means is, "I'm doing my best here, Maverick, but you may be about to lose steering control. Reduce power and make no sudden turns."

Anonymous said...

My car already has too many useless gauges with questionable messages! I'm driving along...and this or that light shows up with abbreviated lingo. Heck, yea, I'm going to pull over at the next rest area to figure out what it means, or that it's a Ford product and when it rains all the electricity in the vehicle shorts out?

mr. mayor said...

I would offer to sell the dear mother scissors to help cut the umbilcal cord, then would have to buy the assistant store manager a beer to make up for the woman yelling at him for 10 minutes for having such a "smart assed" pharmacist.

Pandy said...

Who's Ed?? LMAO.

Sue said...

Wow - how many times have I had that "Aleve" conversation with a customer?? (with that or a dozen other drugs) Typically the patient already had a drug in mind that they were hoping you'd say. eg: (after your 4th time of saying "Aleve") they say "Well, how bout Advil, can I use Advil?" And you say "I prefer Aleve" and they say ok, well but Advil's good, right? And you say yes, yes Advil's fine. and they say "good, ok that's what thought"

TechTard said...

There are days that I wish a shorter life for many of our "Patients". Like the old bag holding up the line while I wait for her to come up with her new Part D card. Almost completely deaf, she is shouting "JUST PUT IT UNDER MY HUSBANDS INSURANCE!!! WE"VE BEEN MARRIED 59 YEARS!!!!". Hag. Maybe the poor guy should buy you a hearing aid.The line is growing. Some fools have that stupoid AWW-She's OLD look on their face. Others, like myself, wish they had a taser they could use. Finally, after completely covering the counter with front end crap (double bag thrice), the waste of resources produces her shiny new AARP D card. GODDDD, I MUST change course. But I need my own insurance and pension, lest the euthanasia clinics never open in my lifetime!! Arrgghh. The angst of it all.