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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

To Drink or Not to Drink?

If I were to give you a drug name and ask you to tell me one thing about it, what would you say?
Would you give me a side effect? An allergy precaution? What it treats? It's main indication? What it looks like? Smells like? What would you say?
Suppose I amend my statement to: If you were given exactly 3 words to counsel about a medication, what would you say?
I present this to you today based on one customer interaction I had recently. We had put a bright shiny sticker on the patient's bag alerting her to a potential, serious reaction. I heard the patient ask my technician a question. My ears perked up and quivered and I slowly started to walk to the counter.

Quizzical Patient: Can I drink with this medication?
CP: No. Absolutely not.
QP: But my doctor said it's okay.
CP: Really? That's bizarre. Did you ask him directly or did he just tell you it'd be safe if you decided to join Dionysus for some wine?
QP: I specifically asked him. I told him we are having our monthly "spirit" walk and I would be imbibing most of this weekend.
CP: To which he replied?
QP: It's totally safe. Have fun.
CP: Unless he really didn't like you or was intending to be facetious, I don't think "have fun" is what's going to happen if you mix alcohol with this medication.
QP: Are you sure?
CP: Let me explain it like this. If you were to ask me to tell you one important thing about this medication, and gave me 3 words to do it, my answer would be "Absolutely No Alcohol!" We have even warned patients not to mix OTC cough medications that contain alcohol.
QP: Well that damn doctor just screwed up my weekend.
CP: I think you should call him and invite him to join you this weekend. You can share some of your medication with him while he gets spirited and see what happens.
QP: Do you have any suggestions for what I can do?
CP: Depending on your priorities, if you can stand to be miserable for a few more days from what this treats, then you could wait until after the weekend to start it. Judging by the look on your face, make it a Shirley Temple this weekend.
QP: Thank you for saving me from an almost certainly miserable weekend.
CP: You are welcome. My name is CP and that is my job.
(And this is one of those times where you wish you could force a customer comment card into their hands and ask them to tell the Powers-That-Be how wonderful we are. But we don't. Why don't we? Because it's our job. This is what we do. I don't need a corporate pat on the shoulder for validation, even though it would even out a complaint about not knowing why we don't stock the powder of some vitamin, only the gelcaps.)

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