Showing posts from March, 2008
Your name is...

Customer: It's right there on the prescription: John Doe.
Pharmacist: Sorry, couldn't read it.
Customer: You can't read the prescription?
Pharmacist: It's pretty bad handwriting. I can make out the drug, though. How are you supposed to take this? What's it for?
Customer: You don't know what the drug is for? How long you been at this?
Pharmacist (now getting testy): 25 years. Drugs are used for a lot of different reasons. This one for instance. Prednisone. Used for inflammation, asthma, lupus, MS, and about a dozen others. It's also taken in different ways, and if I could read the handwriting I might be able to tell you how you are supposed to take it. Did the doctor--Oh, nurse--tell you how it's taken?
Customer: Yeah. Three the first three days, then two then one. Something like that. These doc's and their bad handwriting. They make you take a class in bad handwriting, right? [laughs]
Pharmacist: No. And I don't think it's funny anym…
All in a muddle...
is what we are. I am surprised at how little we learn day to day, at least about how to work and live more efficiently. We complain about having no time, yet we waste it like a drunk's profanity.

Case in point: How many times will a customer come to my register at the pharmacy, plop down a dozen or two items and then wait impatiently while I go through the motions of ringing them out. Some tap their toes, some their fingers. You can almost hear the most impatient of them say under their breath, come on, come on, I gots to be somewhere!

But do they bother to take the hangers off the soft lines (that's department store-ese for clothing) or put the UPC bars where I can scan them? Uh, that would be a no. Do they put the items where I can reach them? No again.

I might tell them that that might speed things up but I might as well be talking to my big toe, as one of my tech's likes to say.

Another, particularly vexing example: After waiting for fifteen, twenty minut…
Slap a label on it...
is all I have to do, right? After all the guy was in a hurry. And he was from Manchester, snob capital of Vermont. "Can't you just do it right now? I can't run back here."

My technician explained (way too politely, to my way of thinking), that we were shorthanded, due to the flu going around, and that there were (gasp!) other people ahead of him.

Well where were they? he wondered. I wanted to tell him that not everyone plants himself down at the drop-off window like some potted shrubbery. "They're off shopping," is all I could come up with.

Later, after the guy took his prescription back, my technician said she wanted to "slap a label" on a box of ex-lax and give him that. After all, what's accuracy got to do with it when a guy's in a hurry.
Pisses me off....
when you try and save somebody a lot of money and they insist on wasting it. Case in point: A young woman comes in the the pharmacy wanting to fill her prescription for an antibiotic. How much is it? she asks. So we punch the little keys and tell her. $55.98 for the brand and $22.46 for the generic. I usually don't even tell the brand price as nobody buys them--heck, hardly anyone pays cash anymore so the insurance company gets to pick whether it is brand or generic and they rarely pick generic except when some special contract price has been negotiated--but this time I say both prices. She says she wants the brand. Huh? I say to myself. Do I even have the brand in stock? I check and we for some unknown reason actually stock it.

Well, what do you do? Just give her the stuff, I guess. If a customer wants to waste her money, then who am I to disagree. Except more than that is going on here. There is a trust issue exposed. I am trying to save her money, so I say that …
This from
Medical News: Campaign '08: Party Line Divides Views on Healthcare Campaign Issues - in Public Health & Policy, Campaign '08 from MedPage Today:
"For example, 40% of Republicans believe the U.S. healthcare system is better than other countries when it comes to making sure everyone can afford needed care. Only 19% of Democrats and 22% of independents share that belief.
Similarly, 72% of Republicans believe the U.S. offers better quality of care than other countries. Contrast that with the 49% of Democrats and 48% of independents who feel that way.

Huh? Now, I am a Republican, just so you know. More than 7 out of 10 Republicans think we are the top shelf in health care? 4 out of 10 think we can make sure everyone can get some kind of health care when they need it? Who are these people? Either they cannot read or they simple do not choose to read. But it isn't just the Republicans that live in fantasy land. About 5 out of 10 Dems and Independents also thin…
And here's another crap-happy product: Mucinex. Technically it does work. They performed tests and it shows a minimal effectiveness over placebos. The real question is: Why shell out nearly $20 for something that works that badly? Just drinking a lot of water or juice will do nearly the same thing. They're selling snake oil again folks, and you're buying it.
Finally! This week's Slate magazine (March 22nd) has exposed the cold remedy Airborne for the snake oil it is. The double blind study supposedly done wasn't, and the stuff will give you a good case of vitamin A overdose if taken as directed. All it is is some vitamins...but hey! it was "invented" by a school teacher, so its gotta be good...doesn't it?
Because it is basically a vitamin product the FDA doesn't have to say it is effective for what it says it is effective for (colds), but does that make any sense? If somebody comes out and says something will cure the common cold then it should give us some proof, right? (But then again, Oprah said it was great stuff so...?)
Or maybe we should all remember that if something seems too good to be true...then it isn't. True, that is. And remember, there is no cure for the common cold. Right? Right.
And one more thing: All you people out there wanting some product to get rid of your colds or the flu...TH…
Why is everybody upset, saddened, and, yes, surprised when they are told that they have to wait--wait!--for oh, maybe an hour before their prescription is ready...when it is the day before (or after) a major holiday? How many holidays do we have to live through before we notice that it sure is crowded here after Christmas, Labor Day (doctors tend to take the holidays off, people!), Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, etc.
Wouldn't you think that after, say, ten years--twenty, thirty?--we'd start to get the drift?
But no. Here is a sixty-something woman dropping off a bag full of refills at the counter on Good Friday. Could she have called them in the day before and waltzed right up to the counter and just picked them up? Yup. But now there is a line backed up to the men's toilet and when told she might have to wait an hour she seems rather disgruntled.
Well too bad, lady. Yer waitin'.
The New Mafia

Kay: It made me think of what you once told me: "In five years the Corleone family will be completely legitimate." That was seven years ago.
Michael Corleone: I know. I'm trying, darling. But things aren't as easy as they seem. The government pols are giving us money hand over fist. It just wouldn't do to turn them down. What would the Godfather think?Kay: Michael, is it true?Michael Corleone: Is what true, Kay?Kay: That you've never intended to get out of the insurance mafia and into a legitimate line of business? Is it true?Michael Corleone: Don't ask me my business, Kay.Kay: Is it true? Is it, Michael?Michael Corleone: No. Don't worry. We'll get there.Kay: Michael, they said that you killed that girl, Nataline Sarkisyan. When she needed a liver transplant you said no and she died. Said it cost too much.Michael Corleone: Kay, it's a lot more complicated than that. The doctors and the hospital, they never sent the right paperwork.…

There was a letter in the local paper decrying the evil of "socialized medicine." Since that letter appeared there have been a few follow-up replies. Those responding seem to feel that no system could be worse than what our country currently offers. They point out that we as a nation spend 15% of our gross national product on health care, far more than any other industrialized country in the world (those bad socialist countries France and England are 10% and 8% respectively), but that our care is currently lagging behind the rest of the world (107 health disease deaths per 100,000 people versus 40 in France). One guy pointed out that the health care that our wonderful public servants currently have is actually government administered...that is, socialist. Wonder why they did that? Maybe they figured they didn't want to be hassled with prior authorization requests and formulary changes. Maybe they just figured that this terrific system of private insurance companies…
A manual for filling a prescription
Twenty-five years ago I graduated from a five year program for pharmacy, a veritable manual for dispensing medicine, if you will. I realize now that these times demand a manual for picking up one's prescription. Fortunately you do not need a five—now six—year degree. But there is still a need for preparation. Times have have been a'changin'.
One: Prepare to wait. (See following.)
Two: If you have a new insurance card bring it. You may think we pharmacist's copy it or run it through some swipey gizmo but we don't. It does, however, have a phone number on the back of it so we can call and find out the numbers we need for billing. The numbers on the face of the card are a trick: they are probably wrong or missing entirely. Sometimes the insurance company puts a few letters in there to try and trip us up and we need to call and find out which letters we can ignore. Anyway, we need the phone number to call the company and get the inf…
Hit Clear?--
That will be $19.98. Will you please sign for the prescription insurance billing? Yes, right here on the signature pad. "Cancel"? No, hit "Continue." Yes, the button at the lower left. The one that says "Continue". Thank you. Now; I'm sorry, you've hit "Accept" before you signed your name. Let me reset the pad. There, now you can sign your name. Yes, that's right. Hit "Clear"? No; "Accept." Whoops, you hit "Clear." "Clear" actually clears the pad so your signature is erased...or cleared. If you hit "Accept" then your signature will be...yes, accepted. Try it again. There you are. Now that wasn't so hard, was it?