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Thursday, September 28, 2017

This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things

People are assholes.
That could be my post every day.
Just a picture of a person, or No One, with the word "asshole" scribbled across it.
But there is more to life, and retail, than assholes.

Except for today.
Today is the asshole post.

We try to be nice to our patients.
We do a rather good job IMHO. (Despite the few whiny bitches on our customer scorecard; you know the ones who get their feathers ruffled for some perceived slight against their ego.)
When your patients keep coming back and say lovely things about you, that's all you need for validation, despite what corporate thinks.

To this end, we keep kibble for the K-9s at the drive-thru and stickers and suckers (when mom approves) for the children. (Make the kids happy and mom is happy. When mom is happy, everybody is happy.)

We do everything possible to provide nice things for people.
Until assholes happen.
Always keep in mind the assholes.

Don't demand pet treats at the drive-thru.
Sometimes we run out.
We buy these with our own money because corporate is too cheap to let us grab a box off the shelf out front.
It's a courtesy.
Say "thank you" and move on.
The next time you come back and we don't have them?
Oh, sorry. Some asshole complained we forgot to offer his spoiled bitch a treat so we had to do away with this customer friendly program. (His dog wanted a treat too . . .)
Here's the asshole's phone number.

Or you could have this guy we had last week:
CP: Have a nice day! (offering sucker to little rapscallion)
Rapscallion's Mom: You're so sweet. We love you!

There Was A Time People Once Cared Kids Enjoyed Things: Suckers?
CP: They are.
TWATPOCKET: Do I get one too?
CP: Were you a good little boy?
CP: Sure. You may pick one.
TWATPOCKET: Can I have a bag for my medicine?
CP: Sure.
TWATPOCKET: <reaches in to barrel of Dum Dums and withdraws full contents>
TWATPOCKET: <befuddled look on face> What?
CP: One. You get one. Those are for kids.
TWATPOCKET: They're free, right?
CP: Not to assholes. You can buy yourself a bag of Dum Dums over in the next aisle. I suppose you're going to steal candy from the kids at Halloween next month too.
TWATPOCKET: That's not fair.
CP: Keep crying and you won't even get an Iron Man sticker to hold your bumper to the back of your truck.

"Counting all the assholes in room. Well I'm definitely not alone. Well I'm not alone.
You're a liar, you're a cheater, you're a fool."

Monday, September 25, 2017

Shhh. Listen

I have long been convinced that people blank out when they are waiting for someone to answer the phone. They seem to experience an absence seizure from when the phone starts to ring to when the person answers. I am also fairly certain that businesses could answer the phone with any script or name they desire and the people calling will have no idea. Maybe it's simply that people are expecting a result and, as such, pay no attention to the actual result they get.

Phrom the weekend:
CP: Thank you phor calling CP's Pharmacy. This is CP THE Pharmacist. How may I help you?
Lack Of Listening: Yes. May I speak to the pharmacist please?
CP: Sure. Please hold.
<1 minute later>
CP: Thanks for holding, this is CP THE Pharmacist. How may I help you?
LOL: Is this the pharmacist?
CP: No ma'am. Please hold for the pharmacist.
<2 minutes later>
CP: Thank you for holding, this is the Pharmacist.
LOL: Is this the pharmacist?
CP: Does it really matter?
LOL: You said you're the pharmacist?
CP: A phew times now. How can I help?
LOL: I need a refill.
CP: You need a tech. Please hold.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Time To Celebrate

A(nother Conversation With Myself)
ME: CP, what is one of the most phrustrating situations you face every day? 
CP: I'd say the Q&A that happens with every drop off. It's phrustrating because it's the simplest encounter we have all day, and we have it hundreds of time each day, yet it seems to be the most difficult for patients. 
ME: Okay. What scenario is so troubling? 
CP: When I ask for your personal information, I'm not trying to get to know you. 
It's not a date. 
I'm trying to make sure I have the correct profile for you. 
This means that your Name, Date of Birth, Address, Allergies, and Phone Number form a portrait of you in my computer. Additional conditions and your insurance may help complete the picture but I need the basics. 
I ask, you answer. 
The sooner you answer, the sooner I get work. 
The sooner I get to work, the sooner you get to leave. 
ME: Sounds pretty straightforward to me. How can it get complicated? 
CP: People point to their DOB on the prescription and say "It's on there." 
ME: So? 
CP: The DOB can often be wrong. Or the patient name can be wrong or a mismatch. I had a grandfather who took his grandson to the office visit. The pediatrician put grandpa's DOB on the Rx. I had an office select the correct DOB, but the wrong patient. Oops. I don't care about the information for a second longer than I need it to do my job but shouldn't you care about your health for more than one second? 
ME: Point made. Okay, I know you started this post with the intent to go another direction but you felt an intro was necessary, so what was the original intent of this post? 
CP: Odd answers to my questions. 
ME: Okay. Give me one example that stands out in your memory. 
CP: Sure. 

CP: Welcome to CP's Renaissance Faire where verbal jousting is always a main event. How may I spar with you today? 
JW: I have come to fill a prescription today. 
CP: Jolly good! Have you filled prescriptions with us before? 
JW: Never. This is my first time. 
CP: Mine too. I just need some information from you to create a profile in my system. Name? 
JW: JW. 
CP: Address? 
JW: No. A suit. 
CP: Witty. Date of Birth? 
JW: We don't celebrate birthdays. 
CP: Pardon? 
JW: Jehovah's Witnesses do not celebrate birthdays. 
CP: Nor any holidays for that matter. That's fine. I'm not planning on sending you a card or hosting a surprise party. I just need the date. 
JW: We don't celebrate them. 
CP: But you were born, correct? 
JW: Yes. 
CP: Fine. While you may not attribute any significance to any particular day of the year, I need you to choose one for me to enter into the system. 
JW: I don't know what to pick.
CP: Like cheap American beer, everyone has a Born On date. Any idea when yours may have been?
JW: Nope.
CP: Any favourite numbers?
JW: I like seven.
CP: How about 7/7/1977? Easy to remember?
JW: Sounds good.
CP: Just remember it when you get to the register. And I promise not to commemorate our first date with a card or anything cheesy in a year...or on your "birthday". 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Your Student = Your Responsibility

According to the State Board of Pharmacy, the one that gives me my license to play pharmacist, I am allowed to have an apprentice. Intern. I am responsible for her training. I am responsible for everything she does. My license is on the line as I am the one signing off on her. 

Apparently, the rules are different when it comes to prescribers. 
As if hospitals were not impossibly organised, let's add practising prescribers to prescribers who practise. Never mind trying to reach the actual prescriber of the patient's discharge medication. Sometimes I think it's some random person in a lengthy white coat that happened by as the patient wanted to leave. 

Here's the problem and #WhyYourPrescriptionTakesSoLong. 
CP: We have to call the person who wrote this prescription. 
Pt: Why? 
CP: Well, you're on Medicaid and for some reason, hospitals have yet to learn to register all their new students with the State. Either that or they leave it up to the individual students themselves which is terrible policy. Either way, we need another prescriber to okay this medication or you have to pay. 
Pt: Well, you know I'm not paying so get on it. 
CP: Right. 
<rings hospital>
CP: I am trying to reach Dr. Zoffis. He wrote a prescription for this patient on 4H. 
Hospital Answer Lady 9000: Let me page him for you. 
CP: Thanks. 
HAL9000: No answer. He's a new resident so he may not be receiving pages. I can call his attending. 
CP: Go for it.
HAL9000: I paged him. 
CP: Okay. Should I hang up? 
HAL9000: No. Please hold. 
CP: <sings entirety of Aenema while on hold>
HAL9000: Still there? 
CP: Wouldn't behoove me to cut communications at this point. 
HAL9000: He didn't answer so I will try again. 
CP: Can't you just take my number and have him call me back? 
HAL9000: Definitely not. Hospital policy mandates that we attempt to page the prescriber 3 times before taking a message. 
CP: So I have to sit on hold for 7 minutes per attempt so you can page a prescriber who could be in the ER, in surgery, or dropping the kids off at the pool because of some stupid policy? 
HAL9000: Correct. Please hold. 
CP: <sings Break Stuff and starts Hangman's Body Count>
HAL9000: Hello? 
CP: Just go with Round 3 so I can get off hold. 
HAL9001: Oh, you've already been through twice? 
CP: Yes. 
HAL9001: Give me your information and I'll have him call you. 
CP: Thanks. 

<1 hour later>
Herr Dr.: I received a page? 
CP: You did. No question about it. I need you to sign off on this prescription one of your students wrote. They are not licensed with Medicaid and the patient won't pay the full cost. 
HD: I'm not going to do that. 
CP: Huh? 
HD: I remember the patient's name but that's it. I'm not signing off on it. 
CP: Is Dr. Zoffis one of your students? 
HD: Yes. I met him once. 
CP: Then who can I get to authorise this prescription? 
HD: I don't know. Maybe try the Endo specialist group. 

<calls Endo Group>
CP: Can you help with this? 
EG: We don't even know who that patient is. 
CP: Is this one of your students, Dr. Zoffis? 
EG: Maybe. We get so many I never learn their names or faces. 
CP: Helpful.

Pt: Did they phix it?
CP: Nope. Apparently no one cares about you once you leave the facility.
Pt: So what do I do now?
CP: I just put the attending's name on it.
Pt: Who was it?
CP: Douche Baggins.
Pt: I remember him. Thanks!

Monday, September 11, 2017


When: Interrogative Adverb.
At what time; how soon

Soon: Adverb.
In or after a short time; early

Shortly: Adverb
In a short time; soon

Now: Adverb
At the present time or moment

Anon: Adverb
Soon, shortly

When we ask the question "When would you like to come in for your prescription?", we are trying to plan our day in the most efficient manner in order to ensure your prescription is ready by your intended arrival time. It really makes no sense for me to work on your prescription right now if you intend to wait until tomorrow, or the weekend, to retrieve it. This allows me to dedicate my time and energy to high priority prescriptions such as antibiotics and ER/post-surgery medications and, well, flu shots. When you have a prescription that requires urgent attention, you can appreciate all the other patients communicating honest pickup times with us.

In the question "WHEN?", we are asking for a time. It can be exact or a ballpark estimate. The correct answer to "At what time would you like to pick up your prescription?" is NOT "later"; nor is it "soon", "shortly", or "today". Those are not times on my clock.

If you choose to give me vague answers, I shall try to out-vague you.

Pt: (on the phone) Did you receive my prescription(s) from my prescriber?
CP: We did. They just arrived in my queue but we have yet to process them. "When (at what time) did you want to come in for them?"
Pt: As soon as they're ready.
CP: Okay. We will see you then.
Pt: Wait. When will they be ready?
CP: Oh. Anon. <click>


CP: When did you want to come in for them?
Pt: Later.
CP: Okay. See you later, alligator.
Pt: How much later?
CP: After a while, crocodile. <click>

Yes. This is an endless debate.
How do we phix it?
As I stated, we get the patients to commit to a time.
When they are vague, we give them longer-than-necessary estimates. However, this rarely works because, regardless of the time (15 minutes from now or 4 hours from now) there will always be the incredulous "That LONG!?" response. Look, if you had pinpointed a time as I had offered, I could begin work on your prescription and it may be done quicker. Since you left the time entirely up to my discretion, I made a decision based on my needs at the moment. Accept it and move on.

When people are in the store, I give them exact times if they choose to wait. In this way, there can be no ambiguity surrounding the Time Of Promise Pickup:
"If you're waiting, that'll be 22 minutes which puts us at 3:57. See you then." It helps, especially since our perception of 22 minutes differs greatly from that of the people on the other side of the counter.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Last One Called Gets All The Yelling!

It's a game.
Make the patient make as many phone calls as possible without actually helping him until he reaches the end of the line . . . and his rope, and begins erupting far away from you. 
Unfortunately, this usually means the pharmacist bears the burden. 

CP: Thank you for calling CP's Pharmacy. Please tell me in what manner you are going to request the impossible so I may disappoint you today. 
Richard Better Use Retail Next Script: I am without my medication. 
CP: That sucks. You should totally get it refilled. Problem solved. Next!
DickBURNS: Wait. I'm waiting on my mail order to arrive. 
CP: Ok. Since you don't use my pharmacy, I fail to see how I can help you. Did you just need someone to talk to while you wait? 
DickBURNS: No. They've been trying to fill my prescription for 2 weeks now. 
CP: It usually takes me about 15 minutes. Two weeks seems like an awful long time to "try" to do anything. 
DickBURNS: Well they say they contacted my doctor and he hasn't responded. They have called him 3 times and I have called him every day for 2 weeks. He still hasn't responded to either of us and now it's the weekend and I am out of medication. 
CP: Boy that's a toughie. First I'd suggest finding a new prescriber. Second, since it's only Thursday, I'd suggest driving to his office and requesting a prescription in person. 
DickBURNS: When I called my mail order pharmacy they told me to come to my local pharmacy and you'd give me my medication. 
CP: <laughs> I love when people tell everyone what my job is and how I do it and believe I can wave a magic wand and damn all the laws I have to phollow. What is this medication? 
DickBURNS: I need Trazodone for sleep. 
CP: Well, upon checking your profile, you have filled exactly 3 prescriptions since 2014 with our pharmacy. Not one of those is for Trazodone. Since your mail order has no prescription, I cannot transfer one from them. Since I have never filled it, I cannot invoke my State's emergency fill exemption so I am unable to help you today. 
DickBURNS: So you're refusing to help me? What am I supposed to do now? They said you'd help me! I need my medication. 
CP: First, you're not my patient. Second, mail order can't tell you what I will do in my pharmacy or my state. Third, I gave you options that included visiting your prescriber. Fourth, there are no options available for you from me other than me giving you other options that do not include me. 
DickBURNS: You're not very helpful. 
CP: Wrong. I was quite helpful. You believe me to be unhelpful because I did not give you the answer you sought when you first rang. There is a difference between your interpretation of helpfulness and the truth. I realise you're phrustrated but your ire is misplaced with me. It instead belongs with your prescriber. Had he done his job, we would not be having this conversation. I stand by my original suggestion, find a new prescriber. Besides, if my state allows me to fill an emergency prescription shouldn't mail order be expected to offer the same service? They are a pharmacy, right?
DickBURNS: But they said you'd do it.
CP: Right. Not cost effective for them. Good luck. Sleep tight. Er . . .

Friday, September 1, 2017

The More You Say It, The Phunnier It Gets

Sometimes, okay, quite often in my pharmacy, a conversation, or a phrase, or even a single word inspires an entire post. The strength of it is directly proportional to the acceptance by my colleagues  of the twist-of-phrase.

It's always inspiring to me that floaters choose to come to my store; mostly due to them knowing they are not in for a drab, boring day. I like to think it's me, but I know better. 

Why is it that patients always say the same thing? It's not just every patient reciting the same line; I'm talking about every patient repeating the same line each time he visits the pharmacy. 

CP: What is your date of birth? 
Pt: I come here all the time. 
CP: Then you know I ask for it every time. You really should be better prepared next time. 

CP: Do you have your insurance card with you? 
Pt: It's in the computer. I come here all the time. 
CP: I think you have a serious problem. Insurances should not be that stimulating. 

CP: Any changes to your personal information?
Pt: I come here all the time. 
CP: I realise corporate pharmacy has prostituted our profession, but you really need to stop doing that. We are not literal prostitutes and since only the pharmacists are Blood and OPIM (Other Potentially Infectious Materials) trained, we're tired of cleaning up your "accidents". 

CP: Do you have any allergies? 
Pt: I come here all the time. 
CP: I'm glad we excite you that much, but you should really try to wait until you get home. They make medication for that. 
Pt: Really? What medications treat that? 
CP: SSRI's are one class. 
Pt: SSRI's? 
CP: Yes. And to help you remember, when you write it down, it actually looks as if the acronym is trying to say "So Sorry".