Being A Pill About The Pills

, , , , | Healthy | March 12, 2020

(I work in a community pharmacy. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard this story in some variation, as have my staff and coworkers in this field.)

Patient: *comes up to the counter* “Hi, I need to fill my medication.”

Clerk: “Oh, of course. Which medication did you need today?”

Patient: “I don’t know; it’s on my profile.”

(The clerk reviews the patient’s profile, which has more than 25 prescriptions dating back years.)

Clerk: “Do you know which one? There’s a bit of a list on your profile.”

(At this point, they will usually say one of two things:)

Patient: “I don’t know. Just fill all of them.”


Patient: “It’s the white pill.”

(This is where the clerk will grab one of the pharmacists.)

Pharmacist: “I’m sorry, sir, but we can’t just fill everything on your profile, as we don’t know which of these medications you take or have stopped taking.”

(Also, the staff hate having to fill a dozen or more prescriptions, only for the patient to say they need one or two of them; the rest we have to put back, wasting all the time and effort we needed to fill.)

Pharmacist: “Do you know what you take it for? Diabetes? Blood pressure?”

Patient: “I don’t know. It’s the white pill.”

Pharmacist: “Most of the pills on your profile are white. Do you know how many times you take it? Was it big or small? The first letter of the name or the doctor who wrote it?”

Patient: “How am I supposed to know?! You’re the pharmacist! You should know this! IT’S A WHITE PILL! I KNOW IT’S ON THE COMPUTER!”

Pharmacist: “Sir, I need a little more information to go on than just the color. Here’s our card; you can go home, find it, and then call it in. Or bring the bottle with you next time and we can help you more.”

(The patient stomped off. Seriously, if you come to the pharmacy, please know something about what you want to pick up. The vast majority of all the pills on the shelf are white. Bring the bottle, take a picture of the bottle, write down the name. Something!)

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