JUST WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED

I’ve been a bit miffed at my pharmacy lately.

Early in the week I received a text advising me to come in for a pneumonia shot. My not-so-young age now renders me more susceptible to this bacterial infection.

I went into the pharmacy and a young technician approached the window to help me. She asked what I needed and I told her. She spent several minutes looking at my “profile” on her computer screen. Finally she asked the pharmacist to help her decide what should be done.

After the pharmacist had studied the screen for a while he said, “You cannot receive your pneumonia injection yet. You need to wait a full year following your first injection before you get your second one.”

I couldn’t remember if or when I had received my first injection, but I took the computer’s word for it when it said I shouldn’t yet have a second one.

A few days later I received another text that read, “We are still holding your pneumonia vaccination for you. Please come in as soon as possible to receive the injection.”

This time instead of going to the pharmacy, I called. A technician answered.

“Tell me again what we said in the text we sent you,” she said.

I told her.

“No,” she said. “We are not holding a pneumonia vaccination for you.”

“But I received a text from you stating that you were holding one.”

“I see no evidence that we sent you a text,” she said.

Now before you jump to the conclusion that I was at the wrong pharmacy, allow me to assure you I was at the right one. I use the same pharmacy for all my medications. This time it is the other party, not I, who is responsible for the confusion.

I am confident the pharmacist will untangle this mess, and I will eventually receive the second pneumonia injection as recommended by the CDC.

I am taking this opportunity, since this is a pharmaceutically-themed article, to address those of you who frequent pharmacies for your prescription medications.

My husband Dan is a retired pharmacist, and the following points are based on conversations I have had with him.

  • Most pharmacists are extremely busy, probably busier today than ever before due to the growing list of federal and state regulations they must follow. They are not allowed to cut corners when filling prescriptions simply because a long line of customers has formed at the counter.
  • Your pharmacist knows much more about prescription drugs than the non-pharmacist person standing in line behind you telling you the pharmacist is giving you bad information.
  • Your pharmacist has no control over your insurance company, who determines how much you will pay for your prescriptions and how often you may have them refilled. Neither can he/she control your ex-spouse, who has stopped paying insurance premiums, thus rendering your children uninsured. No amount of yelling at the pharmacist will change these facts.
  • Please resist embarrassing yourself, pharmacy personnel, and other customers by calling your offending ex-spouse or insurance company on your phone and reading them an expletive-filled riot act while you stand at the pharmacy counter.
  • Do not plan to stop by your pharmacy to pick up your prescriptions on your way out of town for an extended time. Take care of this important pre-travel task ahead of time. Any number of situations may cause the pharmacist not to be able to fill the prescription while you wait. Lamenting that your family is waiting for you in the parking lot in a car packed for vacation will not make a difference.
  • Please comply pleasantly when pharmacy personnel ask to see your ID. They do not make the laws regarding the purchase of certain drugs. They merely enforce them. Yes, you still need to provide ID even if you use the drive-thru window and even if the time is after 10:00 p.m. Dan once had to explain this to an angry drive-thru customer who shouted back, “No one carries their ID with them at night!”

Pharmacists deal with unpleasant people every day. In fact, being forced to deal with those people is one reason my husband retired earlier than he had planned.

Though I am sure you are not such a person, maybe these reminders will help you be a bit more patient with pharmacy personnel.

Sometimes a little patience is just what the doctor ordered.

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10 thoughts on “JUST WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED”

  1. Debbie, when I read your first line, I wondered what in the world you would be writing about since Dan had been a pharmacist! But reading on, I appreciate the good advice and reminders about pharmacies that you were able to pass along. I think the patience advice is definitely applicable beyond pharmacists. So many people “on the other side of the window” are just simply following mandated guidelines and protocols they have no control over, and to yell at them unnecessarily is simply rude. Our actions always boil down to the golden rule!

  2. Debbie, I would have agreed with these points anyway, but hearing your husband is a retired pharmacist makes it all the more powerful. I worked retail all through highschool and college – oh my! There are a lot of people having difficulty, as Ann Voskamp would say. Thankfully, there were also a lot of great people, too. In my laundry room I keep a framed saying, “Be kind – for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

    1. The framed saying about everyone you meet fighting a hard battle is a great reminder. I now wish in my last paragraph I had said something about having patience with more community “servants” than just pharmacists: hairdressers, librarians, bank tellers, teachers, etc.

    1. Jane, thanks for your inquiry! I cannot even confirm that I’ve had the first injection. For one thing, I can’t remember if I did or not. CVS tells me I did, but they don’t know where I had it. They just said it’s too soon for me to have the second one. Walgreen’s says they have no record that I got one. (CVS and Walgreen’s are typically the places where I get routine shots.) My doctor has no record of giving me the shot, The State of Indiana site that tracks injections Indiana residents have had has no record that I had one. I’m stuck. My doctor says it won’t hurt me to get one now whether or not I already had one. You would hope that in this age of computers, information would be shared and reliable!

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