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Customers That Will Give You Blisters

, , , | Right | November 30, 2021

I’m a doctor, working at a public night shift service. It’s kind of like an emergency room but for non-emergencies, to keep the hospitals clear of white codes. We treat anything from a fever to a sore throat to prescriptions for urgent treatments.

A woman walks in at 3:00 am asking for a prescription for hypertension drugs, which isn’t unusual, as people sometimes don’t notice they’re running low.

The law (not a rule, not my decision — the law) states that our service can only write prescriptions for potentially life-threatening conditions’ drugs for a maximum of seventy-two hours’ coverage, so if you take one pill a day, I can only prescribe you a single blister.

While I’m writing the prescription, she casually mentions:

Customer: “I’m an insomniac. I was cleaning the medicine cabinet and I realized I’m down to my last full blister.”

My pen stops and I ask her to repeat.

Me: “Full blister?”

Customer: “Yeah.”

I void the prescription and explain to her the law. She gets mad, starts yelling, and threatens to call the cops.

Me: “Go ahead.”

The cops come, and she triumphantly announces:

Customer: “He is refusing to treat me!”

I explained the situation, and they asked her if it was true that she had a full blister. She, of course, confirmed it. The cops looked at her — still with her look of triumph, waiting for them to arrest me — then at me, and then ask her politely to leave, as I was in the right. She was livid.

The day after, my boss called me and cracked up because she went back during the day to talk to “the manager”, and my boss told her the exact same thing. Never saw her again.

We Suppose This Might Be Problematic

, , , , | Healthy | November 19, 2021

A particular medication that I’ve needed for a while comes in several forms: injections, suppositories, and oral pills. I’ve been on all three varieties over the past few years. This scene happens as my doctor has just switched me from injections to pills and I go to fill the new prescription at the pharmacy for the first time.

The pharmacist hands me a bottle of what looks like large pills, but I review the instructions on the label before I leave and notice that something seems off, so I go back up to the counter to ask the pharmacist a question.

Me: “Excuse me, but the instructions on this medication say to ‘insert vaginally,’ and I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to be on the oral form of this medication right now. The bottle you gave me looks like pills, not suppositories, so I’m guessing it’s just mislabeled, but I want to double-check that I got the right thing before I leave.”

The pharmacist answers in a condescending voice.

Pharmacist: “No, this medication is always a suppository. Don’t swallow it; insert it vaginally.”

Me: “But I was just at my doctor’s office yesterday and he told me I’d be getting an oral version of the med now. Right now I’m taking a version of this medication that’s an intramuscular injection, so I know it comes in multiple forms. Also, I’ve been on the suppositories in the past and they didn’t look anything like this. But this is my first time taking the oral version, so I’m not positive what it’s supposed to look like. Are you sure these aren’t pills that I’m supposed to swallow orally?”

Pharmacist: “No, just follow the instructions on the label and call your doctor if you have any questions.”

Me: “I’m sorry, but this just doesn’t make sense to me, and these really look like pills, not suppositories. Can you please just double-check the prescription before I leave?”

The pharmacist rolls his eyes and snatches the meds out of my hand. He comes back a few minutes later.

Pharmacist: “Your doctor wrote the wrong thing down, but I called and checked and you’re supposed to be on pills, not the suppositories. Here’s the correct medication for you.”

Then, he handed me back the exact same bottle of pills with a different label with instructions to “swallow by mouth”. He never apologized or acknowledged his error in any way.

I simply thanked him and left, but I’m sure glad I pay attention and aren’t afraid to advocate for myself. Even if my doctor did write the wrong instructions on some form, isn’t it supposed to be the pharmacist’s job to catch errors like that? And how could he not tell the difference between pills and suppositories? They look nothing alike!

I still see that pharmacist every time I go to that store. I just hope he hasn’t hurt anyone else by messing up their meds too badly!

Not The Boost You Were Expecting Today

, , , , , , | Working | October 31, 2021

It’s the start of flu season. Several grocery store chains are offering a $5 payment for getting flu vaccinated. I’m already vaccinated against the health crisis disease, but I figure I should get flu vaccinated, too; I work closely with people.

I decide to go to one of the pharmacies that’s offering a $5 gift card. The main desk has big placards that say, “Pickup,” “Dropoff,” and, “Information”. I wait in line for information.

When I reach the technician behind the desk:

Me: “I would like the flu vaccine.”

Employee #1: “All vaccine inquiries go to the window on the right.”

Sure enough, to the right, hidden behind some shelves that appear to be laden homeopathic medicines and such, is a little tiny archway window that looks like it’s somehow older than the whole rest of the building. For some reason, a small section of wall around that window, and only around that window, is made of red bricks. There’s a sign over the window that says, “Vaccine inquiries,” and there are information placards for both the [health crisis] vaccine and the flu vaccine.

There are three people in line in front of me. I wait my turn and then approach the desk.

Me: “Hello. I would like the flu vaccine, please.”

Employee #2: “Okay. Can I have your ID, a credit card, and your insurance card?”

I hand him my ID and insurance card as he presses a pile of documents on a clipboard toward me.

Employee #2: “Sign this.”

He turns his back on me to start entering information from my cards into the computer. I give the paperwork a quick read. It says, “[health crisis] vaccine.” Like a lot. In several places. It does not say, “flu vaccine,” in even one place.

Me: “Uh, sir?”

He seems busy. I wait. Finally, he turns to me

Employee #2: “Have you got it filled out yet?”

Me: “No, sir. It’s wrong. It says, ‘[health crisis] vaccine’ and I wanted the flu vaccine.”

Employee #2: “It’s fine. Just fill it out and sign it.”

Me: “Okay. And you’re sure this is going to be the flu vaccine?”

Employee #2: “Yes.”

Me: “Okay.”

So, I fill it out and sign it. I also scratch out “[Health Crisis]” and write “Flu” and then initial the change. This turns out to be important later.

He takes the paperwork from me and directs me towards a third area, hidden from the first two. This area has brown painted cinder-block walls and several doors in a small cupola waiting area. The sign over it simply says, “Treatment.”

Eventually, someone comes out of one of the doors. This man is different from the lab technician I had been speaking to earlier. He’s older for one, with a strong accent that makes it clear English is not his first language.

Employee #3: “You are here for the vaccine, yes?”

Me: “Yes, sir.”

Employee #3: “[My Name], yes?”

Me: “Yes, sir.”

Employee #3: “What is your birthday, yes?”

Me: “[Birthday], sir.”

Employee #3: “Very good. Come with me. We will get you vaccinated.”

I follow him through another door to a small room, almost the size of a broom closet, but much more brightly lit.

Employee #3: “You do not have any allergies to any medicines, no?”

Me: “No, sir, no allergies.”

Employee #3: “You have a wife?”

Me: “Yes, I do.”

Employee #3: “Good. She will be very happy that you are being safe. Please lift your sleeve. This will pinch a little. It will not hurt, no.”

He pokes my shoulder with the needle and injects it.

Employee #3: “Very good. Go to the ‘Vaccine Inquiries’ desk to schedule your second shot, yes.”

Me: “Second shot? I thought that the flu vaccine only needed one shot. Also, uh… How do I get my five dollars?”

Employee #3: “Flu vaccine? No, this is [health crisis] vaccine.”

Me: “I already got the [health crisis] vaccine. My insurance is going to deny a third shot.”

Employee #3: “Please take this matter to the ‘Information’ desk. I cannot help you with this.”

Me: “Okay.”

I go back to the Information desk. There’s a different person this time, a woman. I can’t see the man I spoke to earlier.

Me: “Hey, you gave me the [health crisis] shot, and I wanted the flu shot.”

She glances at my paperwork.

Employee #4: “It says, ‘[health crisis].’ Also, there were some issues with your payment.”

Me: “Please look closer at the paperwork, ma’am.” 

She looks closer and sees that I crossed out “[health crisis]” and wrote “flu.”

Employee #4: “I can’t accept this paperwork; it’s been altered. Do you have any paperwork that hasn’t been altered?”

Me: “I feel like maybe I should be the one asking you that, ma’am. Can I get whatever charges you’ve made on my card canceled and get the flu vaccine I asked for, please?”

Employee #4: *Pauses* “One moment, sir, while I go get a manager.”

Me: “Thank you.”

The manager comes out and looks at the paperwork. He talks with the lady and with the employee who gave me the shot. Then, he looks at the paperwork again and starts typing on the computer. He doesn’t ask me any questions. Finally, he walks up to the front desk.

Manager: “Sir, I’ve refunded the charges against your card because it was our error. Do you still want the flu shot with us?”

Me: “No offense, sir, but I think I will be going elsewhere. Thank you very much for your assistance. I’m very glad it’s fixed. But I just want to go home now. I think I will try again elsewhere tomorrow.”

I went home and checked my bank statement. Sure enough, they had tried to charge me and then canceled the transaction. The next day, I went to a different grocery store pharmacy that was offering $5 for the flu vaccine. This time, it went very smoothly.

Caught In A Really Annoying Drug Ring

, , , | Healthy | October 27, 2021

My pharmacy sends out text messages as a reminder to order refills. You can answer “YES” to have the refill placed or “NO” to opt out. I don’t like the side effects of a certain medication, so my doctor switches me to a new medication. 

Text Message: “REMINDER: Your medication [first three letters] is due for a refill. Reply YES to order a refill or NO to skip.”

Me: “No.”

Text Message: “You have opted out of refilling your medication [first three letters]. If this is an error, please contact [Pharmacy] at [phone number].”

Shortly after, my phone rings with the pharmacy number. 

Me: “Hello?”

Pharmacy Tech #1: “Hi there, this is [Pharmacy Tech #1] at [Pharmacy]. I’m calling in regards to your prescription for [medication #1].”

Me: “Yeah, I just cancelled it. The doctor—”

Pharmacy Tech #1: “Oh, you really shouldn’t. We can go ahead and schedule a refill for you over the phone.”

Me: “No, the doctor said—”

Pharmacy Tech #1: “You need to take your medication as prescribed by your doctor.”

Me: *With a point-blank tone* “And he prescribed switching to [medication #2].”

Pharmacy Tech #1: “Oh.”

I hear the mouse clicking.

Pharmacy Tech #1: “Thank you for your time.”

Ten minutes later, I receive another text. 

Text Message: “REMINDER: Your medication [first three letters] is due for a refill. Reply YES to order a refill or NO to skip.”

This is the first medication again.

Me: “NO.”

Text Message: “You have opted out of refilling your medication [first three letters]. If this is an error, please contact [Pharmacy] at [phone number].”

My phone rings again. It’s the pharmacy … again.

Me: “Hello?”

Pharmacy Tech #2: “Hi there, this is [Pharmacy Tech #2] at [Pharmacy]. I’m calling in regards to your prescription for [medication #1].”

Me: “My doctor switched me to [medication #2]. I just spoke with [Pharmacy Tech #1] and told him all about it.”

Pharmacy Tech #2: “Um… Our system shows you’re due for a refill.”

Me: “I know, but I’m not.”

Pharmacy Tech #2: “I don’t… um… you’re due. We need to schedule your refill.”

Me: “What do I have to do to get out of this loop? My doctor switched my medication. I am not filling [medication #1].”

Pharmacy Tech #2: “But… you’re due.”

Me: “No, thank you. Please remove this medication from my file.”

Pharmacy Tech #2: “Okay.”

Me: “Thank you.”

Ten minutes later, I received a third text for the same medication. I didn’t answer that time and they didn’t call back. When I went to pick up [medication #2], both technicians were there but they didn’t say anything.

The Tantrum That Never Came And The Husband Who Stopped It

, , , , , , , | Healthy | October 15, 2021

It was 7:30, and I’d dropped into my local pharmacy in order to grab a prescription on the way home. I went back to the pharmacy counter and saw a woman hovering around the counter, wearing a mask, so I did as I always do and stayed a safe distance back to wait. She turned to me, immediately, and I realized I was in for something interesting, as she immediately asked me if I was there for a vaccine. I simply replied that I was there to pick up a prescription, and I could tell from the way she turned from me that she was trying to find someone to complain to. Her attitude radiated impatience and a little entitlement, so I was ready for fireworks.

After a moment, a man came around the corner and started talking to the woman; it turned out that he was her husband. He had been looking for something on the shelves and couldn’t find it but was going to check again since they were still waiting; she requested he stay at the counter because he was “better at talking” than she was. He told her to just call for him when the pharmacists got to them and headed back off to go find whatever it was he needed.

She then proceeded to start making “ugh” huffing noises, like she was scoffing at the wait already, but she did it so often there was hardly a second between her scoffing noises. It was like a mini-tantrum to herself. I don’t know how long they’d waited before I arrived, but I had only been there for maybe two minutes, and I’ve been to the pharmacy enough to know their wait times at the counter didn’t tend to be long if there wasn’t a line, so there was almost no way she’d been waiting more than a few minutes before I arrived, as the counter and back half were empty except for a car or two outside.

After another second, the head pharmacist/doctor in charge approached the counter to ask what they needed, and she called for her husband in a clipped tone before starting off anyway without waiting for him to get back to her. 

Woman: “We’re here for our boosters.” 

Doctor: *Not unkindly* “We don’t take walk-ins after 1:00 pm, and we don’t have appointments after 7:00.” 

He could tell they didn’t have an appointment without having to ask, considering the hour, and his tone was mostly confused and a little concerned, like maybe they’d managed to book an appointment anyway and he was about to have to deal with a massive system issue. He was clearly anticipating fallout, either way. The woman opened her mouth, and I could hear the complaint starting in her throat through the half-second of tone she got out.

Then, her husband cut her off, emphatically and in a volume and tone that were almost teacher-voice-like. 

Husband: “No. He is telling us what he can and cannot do.” 

He then turned to the pharmacist and, in a pleasant tone, asked again about walk-in times so he knew when best to come back. The pharmacist walked him through using the app to make an appointment and clarified what vaccine they needed the booster for. The husband seemed almost pointedly pleasant when he talked, like he was making a point to his wife about how you talk to people when you can’t get your way. She didn’t say anything else except to ask what vaccine they had because, apparently, another of the same pharmacy carried the other kind, and when they left, they left quietly and with no further tantrums.