Thursday, October 30, 2014

Why Your Pharmacist has No Sense of Humor

I'm at the half way point. Almost all the fun has left my body. There's still a little fun left, but after a few more patient interactions and dealings with The Authorities it will be extinct like New Formula Coke. I know it is coming. I have prepared a personal living will for my insanely funny personality. I have advance directives.

You see this a lot with older pharmacists. The light of life is gone from their eyes. The spit and vinegar is just gone. Why, you ask? Where oh where did the life go? There's not one patient interaction or one single mandate from management that causes it. It's year after year of little chicken peckings, over and over, that wear a man or woman down to the nub they are now.

Recently one of our regulars asked for a flu and pneumonia shots. The tech ran claims and had her sign a consent and release form. But she was still unsure if she wanted to get the vaccinations. I don't know why. Some people are just weird about vaccinations. So I anticipated her question for the pharmacist:

"What side effects will I experience with these shots?"

If you don't know me be now, read a few more blog posts. I look for just about any opportunity to poke fun at anything anyone says at any time. The lady that asked the question has dealt with my strange sense of humor before, but today was different.

My response, delivered as dead pan as possible:

"Sudden, immediate, excruciatingly painful death."

The tech chuckled.

He eyes widened and she gasped, then belted out, "That's NOT funny."

"Yes it is. Everyone I've ever said that to before always laughs," I said. The tech nodded in approval.

"It is NOT funny," she said, laughing nervously for some reason now.

At this point I'm tempted to say some story about how we as pharmacists have absolutely no idea what the side effects are for the shots we give... but I thought better of it and told her what to expect. She seemed satisfied.

I gave her the shots and she went on her merry way. But part of my sense of humor suffered a nasty blow today. After years of this I see how I will end up looking like all the mean, old, grumpy pharmacists you see today.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Flu Shot Observations

People will see me, the pharmacist, alone in the pharmacy, running around like a crazy man with people in line at both the drop off and pick up windows, yet will still ask, "Is now a good time to get a flu shot?"

People either WANT to watch me give them the shot with an unusually weird enjoyment, or turn their head and/or cover their eyes trying to pretend it is not happening. There doesn't seem to be a third type.

Grandparents, at the request of the new parents, run down to the pharmacy to get a flu shot so they can be allowed to hold the new baby. The 10-14 days to "kick in" is not a message that anyone seems to get.

Just by the way I phrase how I say it, I can usually get the flu shot patron to agree to get the shot in their left arm (which is easier for me because of how I have the room set up). It is mind control extraordinaire.

Most (almost all) people that are aware of our discount coupon for getting a flu shot act like they only get a flu shot so they can get the coupon.

Most (almost all) people who are getting a flu shot as a healthy measure are unaware they will get a coupon (despite all the signage and advertising).

At least three people come in toward the end of the year (every year) and claim they lost their coupon for getting a flu shot and expect me to just hand them another one.

Almost 33% of our flu shot patrons do not get any prescriptions at our pharmacy but admit to getting prescriptions somewhere else on a regular basis. Why they choose to come to our pharmacy is a mystery to me.

Many of our regulars wait until they have paid for a new prescription then belt out, "Oh, can I get a flu shot now?"

I purposefully do not promote FluMist simply because the drug rep for the product was such an annoying ass last year. That's what you get, butthead.

When I give a flu shot to a little old lady with old weathered skin, the skin "pops" like poking through rice paper when I puncture it. Ewwww.

No matter how many times you tell the flu shot patron that they only need to answer questions 1-8 on the consent and release form, almost half will still answer all the questions.

People who are reluctant to get a flu shot often tell me they know for a fact that the flu shot gave them the flu before. No manner of explaining seems to change their mind.

Way too many parents do not force their kids to get a flu shot because the child is scared of needles. Instead they get a flu shot and have the child watch to see how easy and painless it is. This never seems to work.

Hitting the bone with the tip of the needle in a skinny arm is freaky. Freaky, I tell you.

Some 10 year old girls are a lot braver than 15 year old boys. I had one 15 year old boy cry. I'm still stunned.

No matter how many times our script count goes up during this time of year, The Authorities never seem to get it that they need to hire more technicians to cover this time period.

I can never get a glove to fit right. It's very annoying and I look stupid every time.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Lead by Example

This is a story I heard from a good friend of mine who works for a Goofmart Pharmacy in another state. 

So the story goes that a lady wanted an early refill on her narcotics... to the tune of two weeks early. Neither the pharmacy manager or the staff pharmacist at the Goofmart Pharmacy in question would fill the medication. 

The lady complained to the corporate office. Phone calls made their way to the Pharmacy Director. He immediately called the store and told the pharmacists that they needed to fill the medication for the lady. After all, laws be damned, patient safety be damned, we're NOT going to entertain a customer complaint. No way, no how.

The pharmacists told the director they would not fill the medication. It was too early. And by the state law, they are not required to fill a medication they do not feel comfortable filling. There's probably much more to the story about why they wouldn't fill the medication. Most pharmacists, if not all pharmacists, want to help and please their patients. We don't refuse unless there's a good reason.

The Pharmacy Director, in charge of dozens of pharmacies in the state, drove to the pharmacy in question (a good 50 miles) and filled the prescription himself. Tons of work to do, people to manage, pharmacies with serious tech needs to ignore, Excel spreadsheets to comb over and find fault with, but nooooo, this Director was going to make sure ONE disgruntled customer obtained her early narcotic refill.

For those few readers that just don't get what the problem is here, let me explain it to you:

1. The director should have stood behind these pharmacists. I don't know the reason why they refused to fill the medication, but I have no doubt it was a dandy reason. We don't refuse service to patients without good reason.

2. The director should not have taken the time to take care of this personally. The director has a job, and that's directing. It's not filling. If he felt like it really had to be done, he should have sent a regional manager or one of his brown-nosers to do it.

3. This sends an entirely wrong message to the public. If you complain enough, you get your way with Goofmart Pharmacy whether your're right or wrong. This is yet another example of that "the customer is always right" drivel from the 1950s.

Friday, October 24, 2014

This is how it feels...

...when The Authorities promise us more tech hours for flu shot season and then don't deliver on that promise:

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Pin 3 to Ground

That's how we did it back in the day... All you had to do was connect pin 3 to the ground.

What on earth are you talking about, Crazy RxMan?

Free premium channels on the cable box! That's what I'm talking about. Years ago when life was simpler and cable was kind of new, the cable box converter had a weakness. You only had to pay for one premium channel. If you were smart enough to know how to solder, all you had to do was solder a wire from "pin 3" to the "ground" with a switch. When the unit was on, flip the switch and it fooled the circuitry into thinking all the premium channels were paid for and it would unscramble all of them!

But one thing you never want to do is do the same thing to your girlfriend's cable box without her parents knowing. One day my girlfriend's father, not a man of technology by any means, was not happy with the reception on a sports channel and called the cable company for service.

I wasn't there, but from what I'm told the conversation went something like this:

Cable guy: "Mr. Naper, come here!"

Mr. Naper: "Yes, what is it? Did you find the problem?"

Cable guy: "I know what's going on here. I'm taking the cable box with me and we will notify the authorities about cable theft."

Mr. Naper, a very religious man, by the way: "What are you talking about? You're crazy!"

Cable guy shows Mr. Naper the opened cable box (which I never bothered to put the screws back in) with my soldering job and custom switch install.

Mr. Naper: "I didn't do that. I don't know anything about that. What does that do?"

Cable guy: "Don't play dumb with me! You know what's going on here! This is how you steal cable!"

By this time, Mr. Naper had had enough and called for a son-in-law that was living with them at the time. 

Mr. Naper: "Ralph! Come here!"

Cable guy: "Are you responsible for this, Ralph?"

Ralph knew what was going on but played innocent and blamed it all on me. I was a safe person to blame it on because I was gone out of state by that time. Somehow between Ralph and Mr. Naper they were able to convince the cable guy that it was a teenager gone rogue. No charges were ever filed, but I'm a wanted man in that state, I have no doubt. Cable theft is serious.  

Many years later I attended Mr. Naper's funeral. He had a Will and in that Will he left all his loved ones many things. He even had something for me...  the old switch from the cable box and a hand written note... one sentence, which said:

"If you're going to alter someone's cable box, put the screws back in."