Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pharmacy Rules

I use a local pharmacy that is part of a chain. I frequent it because I know the head pharmacist and I like him very much. His store, on the other hand, could benefit from a little kick in the posterior region of the body. I always go there in a good mood and leave really to kill someone or destroy something. Frustration has a tendency to do that to me. I have no patience for stupidity or downright forgetfulness.

Recently my hubby’s various prescriptions needed to be re-filled. He dutifully called the pharmacy number to order the refills. You know how he did it - the automated re-fill service that allows you to call, give the prescription number and then set a time the next day that you will pick it up. Done, he asked me to pick them up the next day at eleven in the morning. My back started to arch like a cat – I did not want to go. Scenarios of what was going to happen were already beginning to play in my head. He assured me that the prescriptions would be ready. Yeah right, he had never had to go in there alone and face those pharmacy techs.

The next morning I suited up for battle and entered the store, certain that there would be some type of screw-up. Sure enough, the prescriptions hadn’t been filled. Could I possibly come back tomorrow? My friend, the pharmacist wasn’t working that day and I don’t know the other pharmacist. Not needing the police called on me again (Arab Police shudder when they get a description of the person they are being called about – I know my picture must be in the squad room with darts sticking out of it), I said as politely as I could – “No, my husband needs them today. He called them in last night and I want them TODAY.” The little pharmacy tech gave me a look that said, “Surely you aren’t telling me that.” She smiled sweetly and said the store didn’t have the pills in stock and would have to order them. I knew better, but this was her passive-aggressive way of telling me that I would just have to wait because of my surly insistence. I started to pitch a fit and decided it wasn’t worth it. I asked for the store manager. Amazingly, by the time I got through with the store manager, the pharmacist had found some of those lovely pills and my prescription was filled! It was a miracle! I left vowing never to return until…hubby asked me to go again.

That incident set me to thinking about pharmacies and how people act when they are waiting on prescriptions or how they are treated by the employees. These are things I have noticed and some suggestions I would make for improvement:

1. Every time I have to go inside a pharmacy during cold/flu season I worry about being around all those deathly ill people. I hear them sniffling and sneezing and my hand reaches for a tissue. Not for them, FOR ME – to cover my nose and mouth. I don’t want to be sick. Therefore, I would suggest that pharmacies do as my son’s pediatrician did: a well-area for those just picking up prescriptions and a sick area, complete with couches and mounds of tissues, for those who are currently dying of some contagion.

2. A lot of times, doctors will call in medicine for a patient. Now, if the doctor took the time to call in a prescription, do you think the pharmacy tech could actually listen to the message and deliver it to the pharmacist? I feel so sorry for those young mothers who are standing there with sick children, insisting that the doctor said he was calling in the Amoxycillin. My rule: if you don’t check the messages, the pharmacy tech gets to baby-sit the sick children while the mother goes to look at the cosmetics. Torture is a strong deterrent to slothfulness.

3. Drive-throughs are a bane of my existence. I don’t use them because I am short, my arms are short and I can’t usually reach the little drawer, necessitating me opening the car door, getting out and reaching into it. I actually take the time to go inside and get my prescription (when it’s ever filled). I can remember many times standing there waiting on a prescription while the people in the drive-through get waited on first. Why? Because they are in vehicles that could actually run through the store? I don’t understand this phenomena (all the fast-food places do the same thing). My rule: Alternate between the drive-through and the inside customers. Fairness is still the polite thing to do.

4. I was standing behind a little old man the other day who was clutching a pharmacy paper bag. When it came his turn to approach the counter, he lifted the little bag up and handed it to the girl. He explained that he had come in the day before for his blood pressure medication and that when he got home, he discovered birth control pills in the bag. I had to hold my hand over my mouth – think about the poor woman. If she was dumb and assumed her pills had changed (no handy little dispenser), there might be another little Bubba running around in nine months. My Rule: Always check the contents of the bag for your name on the bottle and, if possible, count the pills. Yes, count the pills. I have been shorted on pills before. (This also holds true with fast foods places.)

5. Inevitably when I am in a hurry, there is someone in front of me that knows the little pharmacy tech and has to discuss the girl/boy’s parents, grandparents, last Sunday’s sermon or the state of the local corn crop. My Rule: Do your visiting on your own time. Look behind you at all the people in line and show a little consideration.

Yes, I can hear you now: Why doesn’t she just change pharmacies? I would but it would be futile. All pharmacies are like mine, so why bother. I have most of the pharmacy techs at mine trained – they send someone else to wait on me. I would hate to break in a whole new crew.

Do you have any rules or thoughts to share about pharmacies? I know there are some stories out there about your local drug store.


  1. I miss the good old days when I was a young wife & mother and used the same pharmacy/drug store that my family had used for three generations. When I walked in, every employee knew me by name and always asked about my grandmothers, who had been customers since they were young wives & mothers. Prescriptions were filled immediately, always with a smile, and with explanations about the specific drug’s use, including dosage. After more than half a century in business, this drug store closed a number of years ago and I still mourn its passing.

  2. Fortunately, or sometimes unfortunately, I live in a small town where my hubby's family has lived since Adam. Or at least for the past5-10 generations. Everyone knows him or can at least claim some sort of kinship. If I go to the drive-in at the pharmacy, I get waited on- eventually. If I go in, and the head pharmacist, who knows my hubby from 'way back', is there, I get waited on a little more quickly. If I go in to pick up something hubby has ordered, it's there on the counter waiting for me. I've lived here nearly 30 years, and I'm still not a native. Nor do I have blood kin here. So for the most part, I'm just another face in the crowd.

  3. LOL, Cheryl. I always count the pills, too. But I've been shorted even when the prescription I get is a sealed bottle from the manufacturer!

    I go to my independent, locally-owned pharmacy, rather than a chain. Yes, it costs a bit more, but the savings in my time more than makes up the difference. I'm greeted by name when I go in, I talk to a real person whenever I call in a re-fill, and they tell me immediately if they don't have something in stock (I never use generic, because they're so unreliable).

    I have an idea: switch your hubby's prescriptions to a pharmacy in Huntsville, and he can pick them up on his way home :-).

  4. Sigh. Like Beverly, I miss my pharmacy. Lloyd's Drug Store burned to the ground about ten years ago. No more, "Young lady, do you want a Co-Cola?" No more high school kid bringing it to my door for free, if I was too sick to go get it. No more precious little ice cream parlor chairs and tables to sit while I waited. Up in smoke--along with the musical equipment in the practice room above that belonged my my friend's band, but that's another story.

    I only have on prescription and the guy doesn't have any so at least I don't have to fool with the chain pharmacy on a grand scale.

    But one of my rules for life is I don't talk to recordings. I hang up if they call. I don't answer anything by pressing buttons. So when I call my precipitation renewal in, much as it may aggravate them--I press 0 "to speak with a member of the pharmacy staff." I fancy that if a real person tells me when it will be ready, the chances improve that it will.

  5. Hey Beverly! Yes, we used to have a home-town pharmacy like that but the pharmacist died. He had ice cream and lovely cherry-sprites. We used to walk up there every Saturday just to get one. He knew all of us kids by name and even remembered me when I moved back. I miss him terribly too.

    Cathy, my husband is like you. Everyone knows me but he isn't recognized that much. Even so, we have a new crowd of people who have moved in to town and they don't know all us old-timers. I am sure I have been pointed out as one not to cross and especially don't make her mad. LOL

    Maven Linda, well, I used to go to another local pharmacy until the pharmacist's daughter made a few untoward comments about my alma mater. War ensued and I refuse to go back. Is anyone getting the drift that I seem to be contentious? Any way, hubby agrees with you about the generics because of what the drug is compounded in - he says sometimes it doesn't work as well (aside from being a doctor, he also has a master's in pharmocology). Good idea about letting him pick up his own medicine. No one ever seems to fight with him...wonder why it's just me?

    Jean, I understand about the recordings. I hate them because I feel like the business doesn't have the time to talk to its customers. But my hubby likes gizmos and new-fangled things. He insists on doing these this way, says it's more convenient. Some how I don't because it's usually me who has to deal with the screw-up.

    I am headed to a Mardi Gras parade in downtown Gulf Shores this morning. I shall report in this afternoon. Hope everyone has a wonderful Fat Tuesday!!!!!!!

  6. I wish I could avoid generics, but my insurance pays more for them and financial considerations are an issue for me. Thankfully, the generics I use work well. But it galls me that some high school graduate at an insurance company is making decisions about my health instead of allowing my doctor to make them.

    I've been shorted pills too. And I've been given the wrong dosage before. I always check them to make sure I've received the right meds. Last time, though, the pharm tech pointed out that one of my meds looked different now so not to be worried. I thought that was very considerate of her to do that.

    Hope the parade was great!

  7. Enjoy the parade, Cheryl! We just got finished having a Mardi Gras party here at work.

    Nothing pharmacy-oriented springs to mind. Dark Knight and I don't have any prescriptions to fill on a regular basis (what a relief!). Knock on wood...

  8. Wow! You've had some difficult times at the pharmacy. Very funny, Cheryl.

    I never count my pills. Guess I should now that I've heard the consensus here.

    Oops, we're not supposed to chat with the clerk?

    I love the drive through. LOL! Works for me!

    My insurance gives me generic too. I want to scream, "if my doctor wanted me to take off-brand such and such, he would have written it down." But I know it's no use. Insurance companies don't want to spend more than they have to, and don't care whether or not you are well. Hey, it's more money for them if you have to keep taking medicine for the rest of your life. ;)

    Maybe insurance teams should only be hired, IF they need medicine, and IF they are sick, and IF they need more than a generic brand. Maybe then we, the consumer of said Pharamaceuticals, would get more respect...

  9. The parade was great! Took a lot of pictures and will share with all of you next week. I caught lots of necklaces and moon pies.

    PM I know about the insurance companies. Generics are cheaper and most work as well. Just sometimes they lose their potency because of the compounding chemical used.

    Thanks Crystal. I did enjoy it! It's been a long while since I went to one - say over twenty years. I didn't expect much for Gulf Shores but was pleasantly surprised.

    Right Kathy. And you have people of my profession, us attorneys, to thank for the high cost of pharmaceuticals. Too many lawsuits! LOL Guess everyone has to eat. Hey, there were lots of Pirates at the parade! Not ones, however, that would be in your books!

  10. Gosh, I am sorta in the middle here. I love and miss my local pharmacy but I really got good service at my local chain store. Like Jean, I always talk to a person for re-fills but the few times they haven't had what I need or if something changed on my insurance they have very nicely called me to talk about the problem or change.

    Cheryl-Glad the parade was good! I look forward to the pictures!

  11. we all enjoy a pharmacy we know and who know us but how do u think we got that way by your comment number 5. unfortunatly as a tech i give my customers all the same customer service which encludes a little conversation it insures if i know u and you know me there is trust and probably less mistakes if i know alice the old lady who has a poodle doesnt take a SSRI and i should question the wrong RX that was called in.... also on comment number 2 when a Dr calls in a med a tech cannot take the message only the pharmacist can. besides those 2 things everything else is right on

  12. Good spelling Sheila. Thanks for dropping by - maybe you'll get the right city this time.