Out of Control



Hello everyone! Long time, no post. I had been in the midst of moving my pharmacy. It took lots of planning, cooperation, and teamwork, but it went smoothly and now I can relax again. I will probably go on another hiatus in the upcoming months to study for a law exam. I am in the process of transferring my license to another state, and as soon as I get my authorization to test, I’m going to go back into student mode and study my buns off. But, for now, I am going to return to regular blogging. =)

So, today’s story is one I encountered a few days ago. It was the end of the night, and we were getting ready to close. A woman comes in, and one of my techs goes over to help her. She had some medications to pick up and she had requested print outs of last year’s medications for both her and her husband over the weekend. The policy at our store (in compliance with HIPAA) is that the person for whom the print out is for must be present to receive it. They also have to show ID proving they are who they say they are. The only exceptions are 1.) parents may pick up for children aged 17 & under and 2.) people who have power of attorney over another person may pick up for that individual (in which case, we ask them to bring in the POA paperwork once as proof and we mark it in our system). If the individual is not present and does not fall under one of the exceptions, we are required to mail it in our super spiffy confidential envelopes. All of our techs have been informed of this, but our newest tech dropped the ball and told this women she’d be able to pick up both hers and her husband’s.

Not surprisingly, the woman was upset. I apologized, as it was the fault of our technician’s. As sorry as I was, though, I was not about to break our HIPAA abiding policy. It’s there for the protection of everyone’s privacy and is a good policy. I offered to have it mailed first thing in the morning, letting her know I would personally ensure it got mailed. The woman kept ranting (again, not surprisingly), and I kept apologizing. Up to this point, this is a normal upset patient scenario and one I’ve dealt with several times. I take the brunt of the anger and apologize for a tech’s mistake. Usually, they either calm down after yelling a bit or storm off. This is where things got interesting and where the patient turned from angry to out of control.

She asked to speak with my manager. My manager happened to be standing not far away when the situation started, so I called her over. She also knows this print out policy, as she used to be a tech before becoming a manager. She attempted to intervene and calm the lady down. She offered her a gift card for her trouble (yay, retail store policies of feeding negative behavior!). The lady refused the offer and started to yell louder. She turned back to me, walked towards me, and got right in my face (we’re talking less than six inches from me). She started banging on our counter, and I became scared she would get physical with me and grab me by the collar of my jacket. Her yelling also started to scare the other patients in the pharmacy area. A good ten minutes go by, and this woman has not calmed down (she was actually yelling more) nor accepted any form of apology, telling us instead that we weren’t sorry. She’s still banging on our counters and is now pacing the length of the pharmacy. She kept returning to get as close to me as possible (at this point, I had stepped back a bit so she couldn’t grab me). Those shopping up front could hear her across the store and suggested to the girl working up there that she call the police. Just as my manager decides it may be a good idea to call the police, the woman finished her rant and left, continuing to yell all the way out the doors.

This was one of the few times I was actually scared of a patient. At first, I felt really bad for her. She was misinformed and had every right to be upset and angry with us. But, there is a point that most people reach when they’re yelling where they realize their carrying on won’t fix anything, so they either calm down or leave. I have never had anyone get right in my face like that before. She is one patient I hope never returns and transfers everything elsewhere. Being outright abusive to our staff is uncalled for and does not fix things. You have the right to be angry; you don’t have the right to be out of control like that. When you start scaring other patients and customers to the point where they tell our employees to call the police, that’s when you’ve gone overboard and need to stop. In the end, I still didn’t break HIPAA, and she still left without her husband’s print out. I did mail it the next morning, and it should be at their house by now. But, man…what an experience that night was.

The ironic part of this whole thing is that her husband’s print out contained five items from all of last year. She was out of control over a piece of paper with five items on it. *shakes head*


Image courtesy of http://i147.photobucket.com/albums/r290/ero_sennin37/angry.jpg


Rambling on and on and on and on…


Both the entry’s title and the words in the picture above are things my techs have said jokingly about one of our now regular patients. It makes me angry when I hear those things. The man has severe bipolar disorder, for which he just recently started getting treatment. Whenever he calls the pharmacy, he is manic and very anxious. His phone calls can last for a long time, especially if he is worried about one of his medications. It seems like I’m the only one in the pharmacy who doesn’t mind speaking with him, though. The rambling does not bother me like it does with everyone else. In fact, I feel very bad for him. He didn’t ask for the problems he has. I am sure if he could hit a button and get rid of them, he would without hesitation. His rambling is not intentional, nor is he deliberately trying to annoy or irritate others. He is simply trying to ask questions that he, as a patient, has a right to have answered. The saddest part of it all is that he knows people don’t like when he calls–that they dread hearing his voice. Except me.

So, things have gotten to the point where he will only speak to me. Though it’s nice that he trusts me, he shouldn’t have to rely on one person to answer simple questions, such as whether his prescription is ready for pick up. I can’t understand why people get so frustrated with him. Yes, he rambles. He rambles a lot. But, all you have to do is just let him talk. I continue doing other things while I’m on the phone with him because I know most of what he’s saying is repetitive or just him thinking out loud. But, if his rambling to me for a few minutes can quiet his racing thoughts for a bit, that’s great. I don’t let it interfere with the rest of my duties more than it has to. Neither should my other techs or the other pharmacists who work there. He knows he rambles, and so he only calls on the weekends or after 6 PM on weeknights. He knows he has a problem, and he does his best to keep it from taking up our time. I couldn’t ask for anything more from this guy. He’s as good as patients come. It’s sad to me that no one else thinks so.

I think part of the problem is that other people write him off as “crazy”. They figure they’re allowed to be annoyed with him. They probably also figure he has little grip on reality. I HATE the social stigma on mental disorders. People like this man suffer every day because the people who are supposed to help them don’t. It’s not that they purposely don’t help; it’s that they write things off as part of the patients’ disorders, even when they’re not. A schizophrenic with a UTI should still be treated the same as “sane” people with UTIs. Yes, there are emotional and knowledge barriers many times, especially with the more severely mentally ill. But, you do your best to overcome them with the patient together–as a team. You don’t ignore the barrier because of the diagnosis code in their chart. If you can build a trusting relationship with your patients (“crazy” or not), you will overcome barriers much easier than if you just tell them what to do. If you can empathize with them, they will notice and appreciate it many times. Now, this isn’t fool proof. There are always people who will ignore your advice. There are always people that will be nasty. But, more often than not, being kind or empathetic leads to kindness and gratitude in return. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

Going back to my original story, the man called today, and I was happy to hear that he sounded much less anxious than I have ever heard him . Still a bit edgy and talking fast, but markedly better than before. I hope the pattern continues for him. I know he wants to be more level and even-toned. Maybe, someday, he will be what society deems “normal”. I couldn’t help but smile when I got off the phone with him. =)


Image courtesy of http://i37.photobucket.com/albums/e55/maanika/talking.jpg

Verifying Identity


Today’s story is a quick one, but definitely it stood out from the masses!

We had a patient come to pick up his prescription around dinner time. The technician who was ringing register followed the proper pick up procedures, which include verifying either the patient’s date of birth or address before allowing them to take it home. The patient was very rude when he answered the question, shouting his date of birth as loud as possible, then asking in a very demeaning tone, “Is that loud enough for you, buddy?” He proceeded to say he would report him to the state police for a violation of privacy if he was ever asked for his personal information again. The technician tried to explain that the only reason he was asking was to make sure he had the correct prescription for the right person in his hands. The patient arrogantly replied, “I am the only one with that last name who’s a patient here.” (That statement isn’t true, but he wouldn’t know that because of HIPAA.) He then muttered something about a conspiracy, purchased his prescription, and left.

My internal thought process was, “What a rude [insert expletive here]!” It makes sense to have some sort of verification process to pick up prescriptions. Every pharmacy is slightly different, but most ask for the name of the patient and a second identifier. If he didn’t want to announce his information, all he had to do was provide us with photo identification. We have several people that don’t like to say these things out loud, and it’s perfectly understandable. Why should they have to say their personal information out loud? We don’t ask questions if they provide photo ID, and truthfully, I prefer when people go that route because I can verify multiple identifiers quickly and efficiently. This man’s rude behavior was quite uncalled for, especially considering there was no one in the pharmacy area and the technician was using his “inside voice”.

Out of curiosity, does anyone else have similar stories to share? I’ve run into this situation a few times in the past, but never have I seen someone get so angry about it.


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Inappropriate Conduct


Today’s theme is actually borderline comedic. I say borderline because it’s actually very rude at the core, but has a funny appearance at first glance. Today, I’m going to talk about inappropriate sexual conduct in the pharmacy. Get your chuckles out now because the remainder of this will be very serious.

In the past week, I have seen WAY too many examples of inappropriate conduct in the pharmacy. Not from our employees, but from our patients. Now, I don’t mind hearing compliments from people about how nice our staff looks, and I don’t view it as harassment. But, when a person starts making sexual passes at our staff, that’s not only rude, it’s embarrassing and uncomfortable as well. The conversation below happened today at our drive-thru between one of our young female techs and a middle aged man picking up his wife’s prescription.

“How can I help you?”
“I’m sorry I parked so far away.”
“No, it’s not your fault. I’m just short.”
“That’s okay. I like ’em short.” *wink*
“Who are you picking up for, sir?”
“My wife. I like it when you call me sir.”
“Do you have any questions for the pharmacist?”
“Yeah. How can I get you in my truck for a nice, long ride, sweet thing?”

Wow. Just wow. Very classy. -_-

This kind of behavior is awful to start with, but of all places, what would make someone think it’s okay to behave like this at a pharmacy? Save it for the bar, buddy. I’ve been seeing this sort of thing a lot lately, and I don’t know why. It’s happening to both our male and female employees, and it has no age or marital status boundaries. I feel like posting the following in the pharmacy.


Pharmacy Etiquette Notice
1. Please, do not make any sexual passes or references towards our employees.
2. Please, do not ask for our employees’ telephone numbers or other contact information.
3. Please, do not hand out your contact information to our employees while they are on duty.
4. Please, do not touch our employees in a non-professional manner.
5. Please, refrain from flirting with any employees.


I am still very disgusted by the behavior I’ve been witnessing in the recent past. Unfortunately, we cannot ask these people to leave the premises for this sort of thing, since it is not physically harmful. Thank you, corporate regulations, for such a stupid rule.

My take-away point is this:  Readers, please do not act in a flirty or sexual manner to pharmacy employees. They may find it harassing, even if you are joking. And, please, spread this message. Spread it far and wide. I think half the problem is that people don’t realize how uncomfortable they may be making someone else. And, if they don’t know there’s a problem, they won’t be able to fix it.


Image courtesy of http://i42.photobucket.com/albums/e305/lmull3/stopharassmentbullyingyoutube.jpg



Today, I ran into a very interesting, unusual situation. I had someone come to the pharmacy with a speech disorder that makes him stutter very badly. I have dealt with language barriers in the past, but this one was new to me today.

He had come in for a new medication that he had never taken before. At the pharmacy I work in, our computer system flags prescriptions that have never been filled for the patient. It then prompts the person ringing register to bring over the pharmacist so he/she can discuss side effects and such with the patient. It’s a pretty good system and one I feel is important. Anyway, it flagged me to talk to him about a blood pressure medication. I went over and started my spiel. After I finished, I asked him what questions he had. That’s when I realized he was a stutterer.

For whatever reason, this doesn’t bother me. Not at all. I have all the patience in the world for people who stutter. Maybe it’s because I tend to fill most of my sentences with, “Um,” and backtrack my statements when I’m in the middle of them. It’s not stuttering, but I’m sure it’s annoying. But, I digress. Whatever the reasoning, stuttering doesn’t bother me. He was very appreciative of this. After we talked about the medication, he told me about a visit he had to another pharmacy in another state. He told me the pharmacy staff was rude and didn’t let him talk or explain himself. He thanked me and told me he would definitely come back to our pharmacy again. Sure, the conversation took five minutes when it should have taken two, but it was important, and I made a connection with another patient. It’s things like this that make me proud to be a pharmacist and make it all worth it. =)

The one thing that really aggravated me, though, was the looks he got from the other patients in the pharmacy. As he was talking to me, everybody else stared at him with disapproving expressions. I even saw a person snicker and hide a chuckle. How horribly rude some people can be! He can’t help stuttering. It’s not like he chose to have a speech impediment. Have some compassion and respect!

Anywho, that’s it for today. Sorry about the massive entry upload. I backdated the ones from over the weekend because I was exceedingly busy and didn’t get time to upload them. They were written; they just needed to be pasted to here (and a nifty picture needed to be added). I hope everyone is well!


Image courtesy of http://i522.photobucket.com/albums/w345/andreaperez_photo/stutter.jpg




Today was a bit busier than yesterday. We had quite the Sunday rush, and the front store was short a person thanks to the stomach bug that’s been going around. So, all in all, I guess I got what I was wishing for yesterday, haha.

The major theme I came across today was people’s reactions to pain. It amazes me how different people are when they’re in pain vs. when they’re not. They are almost a completely different person. I personally know a few people who suffer from chronic pain, so I have known about this phenomenon for a long time. But still, the reactions I see in the pharmacy sometimes surprise me because they’re so over-the-top.

There was one woman who came in today. She had just had major abdominal surgery done and was in a great deal of pain. She brings in a script for a narcotic pain medication. When it was run through her insurance, I received a rejection message stating it was too soon to be filled until the following day. I told her this, and she asked if she could just pay cash for it. I refused because of what the medication was. Had it been a non-controlled maintenance medication, then I would have let her pay out of pocket without any problems. But, seeing that it belonged to the most controlled class of medications, I politely told her no.

She immediately started screaming about how much pain she was in and that the doctor told her she could get it filled early because the directions were changed. Because she had gotten it at another pharmacy the previous time, I could not verify this without calling them, and they were closed. I told her if she got a hold of her doctor personally, and he authorized the fill over the phone to me, I would fill it, otherwise, my answer remained the same. She banged her fists on the counter and continued yelling. She couldn’t understand why it was her responsibility to call the doctor and not ours. At our pharmacy, when a person insists a narcotic is allowed to be filled early, the pharmacy personnel do not call on it. We have quite a number of people that have had past issues with prescription drug abuse, so we choose not to cater to them for safety issues.

To make this long story short, the physician did end up calling me and verifying that it was, indeed, allowed to be filled early. He stated that he gave her a very limited amount of pills for this very reason. I filled them for her, wanting to just get her out because her carrying on was making some of the other patients in the waiting area nervous. I went to the register to start ringing her out. That’s when it happened–the words, “I’m sorry,” escaped from her mouth. It’s very rare that we hear apologies from the people that have two year old inspired tantrums over their medications. I was shocked. She apologized for her behavior; she was just in a lot of pain. After some more apologizing, she left.

Other similar things happened today, all of which were due to the patient being in pain. But, that was probably the best story of the day.


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How Rude!



Today’s theme was definitely rude behavior. In a community pharmacy, rudeness is a commonly observed trait. But, it seemed like there were several exceptionally rude people at the pharmacy today.

One example was that of a lady dropping off a prescription for another person. She didn’t like that there was someone ahead of her. As I was figuring out what that person’s copay would be, the woman behind her literally pushed this person to the side to throw her script on the counter. A fight nearly broke out between the two people.

Another example would be that of a person who came to the drive-thru to pick up a prescription. We had just received it about a minute or two prior to her arrival. We told her it would take about 15 minutes to get it ready and asked her to come back. She refused to move and shut off her car. She couldn’t care less that the people behind her were angrily beeping their horns.

A third example was that of a person who wanted her pain medication filled 10 days early. When we refused because it was too early to fill, she started yelling and threatening to sue our store. On her way out, she stopped random customers (including those in our waiting area) to ask them loudly how horrible they thought we were. When they looked at her like she had two heads, she told them they were just as bad as us.

I also saw two people fighting over a dropped dollar bill and an adult laugh at a toddler who tripped over his shoelaces (this adult was not with the toddler or his parent). It’s days like these that I wish I could send people back to preschool to learn manners again.

Truthfully, it doesn’t bother me when people yell at or act rudely towards us. It bothers me when they act rudely towards random people in the pharmacy that they don’t know. It grates on my nerves. Everyone comes to the pharmacy for the same general purpose–to get medications. Don’t pick fights or argue during the 15 minutes that you’re there. Show the other waiting patients the same courtesy you would want them to show to you.

The Golden Rule is such a simple concept, yet it eludes much of the human race. On days like these, I can only shake my head.


Image courtesy of http://i1114.photobucket.com/albums/k536/Asdruflo/the-truth-about-being-rude.jpg