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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Different Rules

Pharmacy...The scene...Patients line up outside the pharmacy gates before we open. Cars queue up at the drive-thru before we open. It's anticipation. Better make sure we open exactly at 9am. (They watch us with a "we see you in there so just help me now!" look in their vacuous stares.

Doctors...The scene...Patients wait outside before they open. Maybe they open the doors at 8:05. Maybe later. Patients are okay with that. They know they have a scheduled appointment time and lots of magazines and TV shows to watch until someone decides, rather ambiguously, to call them back much later than that scheduled time. Lunchtime is usually from 12-1pm. Phones go off at...maybe 11:45 today. Maybe 11:52. Who knows? People are okay with that. Phones come back on at 1pm? Never. 1:07? 1:11? 1:19? Who knows. We get the answering service who is mad at us for calling and they tell us "they should be back. But try later." Patients call us and tell us to call. Right. I have the same number to reach them that you do.

Pharmacists...Lunchtime arrives. For us, that's just the hours between 12 and 4pm. No significance other than we can't reach doctors from 11-something to 1-something. Grab a handful of Cheetos and wipe my hands on my off-white smock. Oops. Chug a Mountain Dew. Keep trying to decipher the e-scripts and voicemails I got after your doctor shut off their phones for lunch.

Doctors...4-5pm. Switch off phones at some point before they say they are closed. Hurriedly leave a dozen voicemail messages in a speed contest against the other office lady sitting next to you so the pharmacy can't possibly call you back on them. Patients know they are closed and don't rush the staff for last minute appointments as the staff is walking out the door. Which is good because the doctor left hours ago, but the staff is just finishing the calls.

Pharmacists...5-9pm. Explain to customers the doctor switched off their phones early. Patients say "that's okay. They work long days. But you bastards need to give me my meds now. I'll be waiting." After a 12 hour day at 9pm we lock the gates, close the door and start to our cars. Multiple people run up to us and coerce us to open the pharmacy because they have to have their stuff tonight because they've been out for 6 days, are going to now die without them, and they've been waiting to be picked up for 8 days even though they were written 3 months ago.

Pharmacies have posted open and close times. Doctors use some rather amorphous scheduling when they decide to open and close and switch their phones to the answering service.
Over generalized? Sure. True for many offices with which we deal? Definitely. Every day in the life of your pharmacist? Absolutely.

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