Sunday, August 06, 2006

I Realize Today I've Done You A Disservice

WARNING: This post may be painful for those in the profession to read.

For over a year and a half now, the first thing anyone visiting my little blog garden has seen under the headline at the top of the page is the promise that the question of "why does my prescription take so damn long to fill" will be answered. Tonight I looked over this blogs archives and realized it was a promise not kept. While many topics have been covered here, and you have been provided with ample evidence of how drugstore workday life does indeed warp the mind, the question of why it took 2 hours for you to get 20 Vicodin has remained unanswered. I can't help but to think there may be someone out there who has been logging on every day for the last 18 months hoping in vain for this mystery to be solved. Should such a person exist, I offer my humble apologies. To everyone else, I offer the following prescription scenario:

You come to the counter. I am on the phone with a drunk dude who wants the phone number to the grocery store next door. After I instruct him on the virtues of 411, you tell me your doctor was to phone in your prescription to me. Your doctor hasn't, and you're unwilling to wait until he does. Being in a generous mood, I call your doctors office and am put on hold for 5 minutes, then informed that your prescription was phoned in to my competitor on the other side of town. Phoning the competitor, I am immediately put on hold for 5 minutes before speaking to a clerk, who puts me back on hold to wait for the pharmacist. Your prescription is then transferred to me, and now I have to get the 2 phone calls that have been put on hold while this was being done. Now I return to the counter to ask if we've ever filled prescriptions for you before. For some reason, you think that "for you" means "for your cousin" and you answer my question with a "yes", whereupon I go the computer and see you are not on file.

The phone rings.

You have left to do something very important, such as browse through the monster truck magazines, and do not hear the three PA announcements requesting that you return to the pharmacy. You return eventually, expecting to pick up the finished prescription.....

The phone rings.

......only to find out that I need to ask your address, phone number, date of birth, if you have any allergies and insurance coverage. You tell me you're allergic to codeine. Since the prescription is for Vicodin I ask you what exactly codeine did to you when you took it. You say it made your stomach hurt and I roll my eyes and write down "no known allergies" You tell me......

The phone rings.

.....you have insurance and spend the next 5 minutes looking for your card. You give up and expect me to be able to file your claim anyway. I call my competitor and am immediately put on hold. Upon reaching a human, I ask them what insurance they have on file for you. I get the information and file your claim, which is rejected because you changed jobs 6 months ago. An asshole barges his way to the counter to ask where the bread is.

The phone rings.

I inform you that the insurance the other pharmacy has on file for you isn't working. You produce a card in under 10 seconds that you seemed to be unable to find before. What you were really doing was hoping your old insurance would still work because it had a lower copay. Your new card prominently displays the logo of Nebraska Blue Cross, and although Nebraska Blue cross does in fact handle millions of prescription claims every day, for the group you belong to, the claim should go to a company called Caremark, whose logo is nowhere on the card.

The phone rings.

A lady comes to the counter wanting to know why the cherry flavored antacid works better than the lemon cream flavored antacid. What probably happened is that she had a milder case of heartburn when she took the cherry flavored brand, as they both use the exact same ingredient in the same strength. She will not be satisfied though until I confirm her belief that the cherry flavored brand is the superior product. I file your claim with Caremark, who rejects it because you had a 30 day supply of Vicodin filled 15 days ago at another pharmacy. You swear to me on your mother's'....

The phone rings.

.......life that you did not have a Vicodin prescription filled recently. I call Caremark and am immediately placed on hold. The most beautiful woman on the planet walks buy and notices not a thing. She has never talked to a pharmacist and never will. Upon reaching a human at Caremark, I am informed that the Vicodin prescription was indeed filled at another of my competitors. When I tell you this, you say you got hydrocodone there, not Vicodin. Another little part of me dies.

The phone rings.

It turns out that a few days after your doctor wrote your last prescription, he told you to take it more frequently, meaning that what Caremark thought was a 30-day supply is indeed a 15 day supply with the new instructions. I call your doctor's office to confirm this and am immediately placed on hold. I call Caremark to get an override and am immediately placed on hold. My laser printer has a paper jam. It's time for my pharmacy tech to go to lunch. Caremark issues the override and your claim goes though. Your insurance saves you 85 cents off the regular price of the prescription.

The phone rings.

At the cash register you sign....

The phone rings.

......the acknowledgement that you received a copy of my HIPAA policy and that I offered the required OBRA counseling for new prescriptions. You remark that you're glad that your last pharmacist told you you shouldn't take over the counter Tylenol along with the Vicodin, and that the acetaminophen you're taking instead seems to be working pretty well. I break the news to you that Tylenol is simply a brand name for acetaminophen and you don't believe me. You fumble around for 2 minutes looking for your checkbook and spend another 2 minutes making out a check for four dollars and sixty seven cents. You ask why the tablets look different than those you got at the other pharmacy. I explain that they are from a different manufacturer. Tomorrow you'll be back to tell me they don't work as well.

Now imagine this wasn't you at all, but the person who dropped off their prescription three people ahead of you, and you'll start to have an idea why.....your prescription takes so damn long to fill.

A year and a half late, but a promise kept. I feel better about myself already.

295 comments:

1 – 200 of 295   Newer›   Newest»
Anonymous said...

That is BRILLIANT!!! I want to print it out and hang it in my pharmacy where all the customers can read it. (Too bad most of them don't seem to know how to read......)

phled said...

I'm not a pharmacist but this a great story. Also I think I was behind that guy in line the other day.

Anonymous said...

You have completely described a normal day at work for me! Even down to the part of getting interrupted for stupid questions like "where's the bread." I work in a grocery pharmacy and I swear sometimes I feel like I've actually been tricked into working at the information desk for the store! Thanks for this humorous answer...so sad it's actually true!

Anonymous said...

OMG I think I work with you! You summed it up so perfectly. Lord help me even though I've seen/experienced this a 1000 times....I start pharmacy school in a few weeks. I've already stocked up on the single malt...

Anonymous said...

You just described an average day for me. Thanks for a great laugh and making me feel not so alone!!

anon., CPhT. said...

Dear god. This just confirms what I've been saying all along--I'd rather serve wings in orange short shorts than work retail. *shudder*

Chloe said...

I think I love you.

Anonymous said...

i worked in a retail pharmacy this summer...this was the typical day... i cant wait to start pharmacy school in the fall!!! yeah!!! :]

Anonymous said...

A friend sent this to me and I cried I laughed so hard. I am a pharmacist and it applies to ALL areas of Pharmacy. Did we have a class in school entitled--"How to know everything anyone ever asks you?" I think I must have slept thru it!

Thanks for letting the world walk in our shoes!

Anonymous said...

I just came off a night shift from hell at a hospital pharmacy. Your story really hit the spot!

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine who is also a pharmacist read this to me this weekend, and we were all doubled over laughing in the pharmacy, I have no idea what the guests think (yep, now you know where I work) it was the perfect thing to complete that day. Although from then on, I cannot help but count how many times a little piece of me dies each day!

Thanks!

Rachel said...

I love you. You are my role model. Your blog somehow made it to one of my fellow pharmacy classmates. We are finishing up rotations. I spread your word like wildfire today, because it made me laugh for an hour. I just wanted to tell you thank you for trying to make the world understand our chaotic life in retail.

Anonymous said...

Drugnazi.....get outta retail! I've done hospital work the first five years, then retail for the next 10 and am now happily back into hospital/clinical work the past 4 years. I LOVE not having to look at insurance cards and my working conditions are far superior to any retailer out there. Goodbye retail.....I'll never be back, no matter how high the sigining bonuses are!

Anonymous said...

this is my life in a nutshell. thank you for showwing people a few minutes in the life of a pharmacy staff!!!!

Major_Tom said...

Have to agree with the previous poster about hospital work... I left retail 3 years ago and will never go back. Thanks for bringing back some horrible repressed memories, though. Whenever I have a "bad" day at work now I will look at this post.

Anonymous said...

OH my goodness, were you peeking in the window of our pharmacy!! Only someone who has really worked in a pharmacy could have nailed it so perfectly!! We made copies of this for everyone in the pharmacy to have!! Thank you so much!!

Anonymous said...

I hear SJU Grad in your blog. I just said I was a grugnazi the other day and never saw this site before. How fucking cool. It is true '''I hate people and only do this stank ass job for the money.. How many questions can someone take about insurance..Yeast infection, constipation, diarrhea, poison fucking ivy and lice take in one day..By the way my shifts are 2 14's in a row then day off then a 12 then another 14...Next time you need a transfer and there is no answer it is probably me. I just do not pick up the phone unless I have to.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! I just want to give you a huge hug. You pretty much described word for word my day at work yesterday. I printed this out and will be hanging it in our pharmacy tomorrow!

Anonymous said...

I couldn't have said it better myself!

Anonymous said...

This would be hilarious if it hadn't happened to me 4 times in the last 3 days! Brilliant!

Anonymous said...

After 4 years in undergrad and another 4 getting my PharmD there is nothing like being talked down to by some asshole in a dirty wifebeater who is 100% positive that he has always used his dental card to get his scripts filled. I am actually reading this page on a break from applying to hospital/clinical jobs online. Its a relief to know that you all hate retail as much as myself.

Anonymous said...

oh good lord... only 3 more years of pharmacy school and i get to look forward to this... haha... can't wait!

Anonymous said...

perfectly put...The other thing I'm pissed off not learning about as am I about to gradute is why the 1 bottle of water is 1.09 and the same other one is 1.29. The candle sticks are on sale why are you charging me more?
Go to the front asshole I only know drugs!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Just to add to the comments. Everyone should have to work in a pharmacy 1 day of there lives to see what happens all day long. We not only have to help customers that come in the store,but also have 5 other ways of recieving a script. We don't only service your doctor, but hundreds. I can't help it you had to wait 2 hours at the office but thats ok. But your script should be done before you get to the store with it in your hand. Also it would be nice if you know what insurance you have. And no we can't give you a insurance price with out sending it to the insurace. We don't know what your insurace will charge or pay for. Do you know what mine pays for. Hello

Anonymous said...

Wow, although I'm not a pharmacist, but a tech, I still feel your pain. I get people like this all the time, and it seems they only sour with age. Keep on keepin' on.

Anonymous said...

You won't have to worry about this much longer because Walmart is under-cutting all the brick and mortar pharmacies just as they did the local hardware stores, local grocery stores, and local (insert your mom and pop store here).

You'll be bitching and complaining about why everyone goes to Walmart next and why pharmacists don't get paid sh*t for working there.

In the meantime, the rest of the world is going global and ordering their Rx's globally and going to countries that don't require a prescription for an antibiotic (cough cough, Mexico, etc...).

So pharmacists wake up. Your little headaches today are going to grow much larger as you realize that your nice jobs are being outsourced to big box stores and the globe (cough cough the internet Rx overnighters).

that's a wrap

Anonymous said...

Working for a chain pharmacy for the last four years, I must say that this post is simply brilliant. This site will definitely be added to my bookmarks.

Anonymous said...

brilliant, except u forgot the part where the insurance now requires prior authorization on this type of medication and you have to call the doctor to then call the insurance for the diagnoses that the medication is being given

Anonymous said...

I am a retail pharmacist and this is so true it makes me want to cry and laugh at the same time!

Anonymous said...

This was on brilliant piece of work. I am not a pharmacist, but a resident physician. I feel your pain. Absolutely hilarious!

Anonymous said...

I'm definitely printing this off and giving it to all of my friends and fellow pharmacy school interns. This is classic.

Anonymous said...

That was AMAZING. That story should be posted at work for all the impatient clients to read. haha.
Very well done.

Anonymous said...

I love it! Thank you!!!

Ashley said...

Six months later, do you still enjoy getting comments on this post? I stumbled upon your blog in an academic search about the pharmacist shortage so that I may one day graduate college, and then one day graduate pharmacy school, and be just like you. Because I need to write said paper, I don't have time to read the rest of your site yet, but I am already sure that I will love it. I worked as a pharmacy tech for Rite Aid and it was indeed hell on earth. I'm opting for hospital pharmacy (but I'm a tech in a hospital right now, so I understand it's just a different type of hell). You are dead on about everything..

You're my new hero, and I think it may last more than a few days.

The Apathetic Pharmacy Guy said...

I'm sitting in a rotation last week and someone handed me a copy of this...I guess the DM of this retail chain I'm slaving for sent it to every pharmacist in the region or some crap. You've become hella famous, my ex-Nazi fried.

I'm like, yeah, that guy links to my blog........

Anonymous said...

Should have been a mortician. :)

Anonymous said...

Wow your blog is great. by the way glad I found you. Does the feminine itch med. work on male hemorrhoids itch? And where are they located. (I have a coupon also!)

Cathy said...

Well, Im not a pharmacist, but I do have one. I gave him a copy of this. He was to busy to read it, but about 4 hours later he called me and was still laughing.

Anonymous said...

i'VE ACTUALLY TOLD CUSTOMERS "DON'T GET YOUR PANTIES IN AN UPROAR!" iT WILL TAKE AS LONG AS IT TAKES

Anonymous said...

I can't deny that this scenario has some basis in truth. Yes, I'm a pharmacist and yes, I work in a community pharmacy. The thing that strikes me is that if you continue to act like you work at McDonald's then the people that come to your pharmacy will continue to treat you like you are K-Fed the "fry guy". Get a grip.

Runs With Scissors said...

You forgot the part about attending to the customers at the drive-thru window!

Anonymous said...

what the hell kind of moron complains about how long it takes for their prescription to be filled?

talk about self-centered and narrow-minded.

Anonymous said...

I have long wanted to conduct a study to determine the ratio of phone calls to filled prescriptions. I estimate that it is 5 to 1 in favor of phone calls.

Anonymous said...

The pharmacist I work for just told me about your blog today. Came home from an 11 hour shift in a shit mood 'cause people are completely stupid first day after a holiday and started reading your blog. Thank you Thank you Thank you.I was laughing so hard I was crying. You summed up my day perfectly. I just need to add in "Can't I just read you my presription over the phone and have you fill it? My friend will pick it up for me later."

Paul said...

Some things are obviously international. My wife and I are British pharmacists and this could have been our average patient too. Only instead of insurance we have NHS charges and exemptions to sor out.
You're not alone!!

Anonymous said...

This is actually a sad commentary on our health system. At no point does anyone ask whether this nutbag really need the prescription. All too often we fill prescriptions lacking the necessary information to determine if the prescriber (MD, RNP, PA) has any clue as to whether the patient really needs the recommendation. I am a hospital pharmacist and I can emphathize with the author but there is a choice to work in that setting.

Having said all that, this is the best profession bar none and the humor we all have in the face of such malignant stupidity is truly admirable.

Anonymous said...

This makes me so happy that I ran out of retail before I finished pharmacy school. It looks like nothing has changed these past 10 years!! Crack me up!

SassyTech said...

This is one of the best explanations of the waiting process in retail pharmacy. I laughed. I cried. I peed my pants. (Not really.) But it is so good I printed it off and hung it on our bulletin board.

K8D said...

I am a Pharmacist from Australia. I am REALLY glad we don't have the insurance system you guys have! What a hassle!

David said...

I'm sure you left out references to your neurochemical transmitter levels and unvoiced swear words.
You make its sound like a normal day... oh... it is? hehheh!

Anonymous said...

I have been a pharmacist for 13 years, and about 4 of those were in retail. In my opinion there is no more humiliating, mind-numbing job on the planet than retail pharmacy. After working in retail, for the nation's largest PBM, for federal hospitals and temp agencies, I finally landed the much sought after cushy government job where I do not have to fill any prescriptions, or even go anywhere near a pharmacy or health care facility. I also took a huge pay cut - but it has been more than worth it. Anyone reading this post who is a pharmacist and does not have too many obligations yet in life should go back to school and become something else. What good is all that money if the stress kills you? Once the obligations start multiplying, it becomes much more difficult to get out of pharmacy or any other profession for that matter. By the way, if you can not get out of pharmacy completely, LTC pharmacy is a good alternative as it is rarely stressful and sometimes even pleasant.

Anonymous said...

Ohhhhh ok!! That's why Wal*****s had an 8 (yes 8) hour wait on my sleepers a month ago!! Thank you for clearing that up..
Kudos to you :)

Anonymous said...

you missed one important part. doing it in a language you don't normally speak, chinese, spanish who the hell knows what else. fuck that noise

Anonymous said...

What??? Its called customer service. You are there to HELP people. How can you say such things? Honestly, my fingers froze for few seconds after I typed first few lines. Great Blog. Sadly its true. I had to go thru' this drill with one of my drive thru' customers. She was a nurse. She yelled at me and said that she has been waiting there for long time wasting her gas and there is nothing express about drive thru'. I said you are 100 % right, drive thru' is for CONVENIENCE so that you don;t have to get down from your car and there is nothing express about it. It is pathetic that even educated people behave like this when they come to pharmacy. It is very unfortunate that general public and the educated ones have absolute zero awareness about pharmacy.

Anonymous said...

The great question for me, a BS RPh, is . . . why will this activity require a Pharm.D. degree? Did I forget to take the third-party ombudsman certificate CE, so the doctorate was left off my diploma?

TW said...

There's an underlying theme here though - relying on the *customer* to be a source of useful info - relying on verbal person to person communication with the doctor and so on.

Wouldn't it make more sense to have some kind of integrated system where the doctor could submit a prescription over the internet to a central db (perhaps one per HMO in the States) and the pharmacist could then take a case number and retreive all the relevent data rather than ask the customer for details?

It always amazes me how primitive so many data systems still are - and it seems that the medical and legal professions are always at the back end of the pack.

Anyway, hope things get better.

Mike said...

Do you hear the phone in your sleep? I work in the same loud ass fucking environment. It's conducive to making one fucking swear all the fucking time. Will someone answer the fucking phone? Yeah, I have a number to call in. Fuck you and your number.

Me: what's the number please?

Dickhead: Where is it?

Me: On the label above your name?

Dickhead: Where?

Me: Above your name....

Dickhead: Oh yeah...uhh...uhh...uhh...68,32,12,3.

Me: When did you want to pick that up?

Dickhead: Later....

Me: About what TIME?

Dickhead: After supper...

Me: When do you eat generally?

Dickhead: It depends.

Me: What time do you plan on eating today?

Dickhead: Ohhhh about 5.

Me: Okay, I'll have it ready by 5.

Dickhead: Can't I come in sooner?

Me (giving up): sure.

They don't use the automated system because there is no 68 button on the phone.

Anonymous said...

move to australia - i can assure you this does NOT happen here. the pharmacist works behind a big counter raised a foot or two higher than the floors of the common areas and you just about never get to speak to them. there are shopgirls to field the stupid who cant tell a script from a loaf of bread, who need prompting to remember their own names and addresses and who want to fernagle 15 cents off with an expired discount card. nobody would DREAM of using a cheque to pay, in fact most people in australia dont have chequebooks. you can put a sign at your cash register informing amphetamine producers that you wont be selling them any ingredients, and you can make the shopgirls tap it for you. the professional and the retail are completely segregated. the only time you need to speak to any member of the public is when you descend from your lofty heights to hand me another 250 poisonous pills and tell me im wasting my money, have ECT because it WORKS. *LMAO*

last words said...

FUCK WALGREENS

I bust my ass as a tech there making shit for money and i get to listen to the lame ass floater pharmacist talk about how he loves how his job gives him the flexability to "zip around in his new Porsche every weekend," while i'm thinking "fuck a Porsche, I'd settle for a vial of novolog and a 27 g syringe so I don't have to hear you, or my cokehead parents asking me for $150 every week for an 8er." and i'm not diabetic neither

Pete C said...

well written story.... I'll have to pass it on to my other pharmacist friends....

..I'll think i'll stay in hospital pharmacy for now....

....some of the comments were funny too.

KLORPh said...

My apologies! I guess maybe you are the author! I didnt catch the 2006, as I was linked here. SO sorry! Brilliantly written. Well done.

Anonymous said...

Oh my this is great! and so so so true. This is the number one reason i think people who work in retail pharmacy should have anti- anxiety meds to get thru the day!

Anonymous said...

haha...this so totally hits the spot. the only thing to add would be patients/customers complaining about how long its taking for the pharmacist to fill other prescriptions since this one vicodin prescriptions is taking all of his/her time.

thanks!

Anonymous said...

Look dudes and duddettes..I am a PharmD..and I hate working a walgreens too. They making filling a Rx take too much damn time because of the lack of people in there working. We are filling sometimes 500 Rxs a day (you may not see the people hanging around, but MF they are on their way back). I don't drive a Porche, I drive a 2005 Hyndaui (happy now). I hate being a pharmacist because often I work 10 hour days without even a bathroom break or lunch of any kind. My techs often suffer the same fate. Techs and pharmacists quit all the time, and the company cannot figure out why. Shit. Drive thru windows, faxed in Rxs, refills calls on the phone by the 100s (from the nite before) and so on. Then some bitch says her insurance not paying is MY fault and I should call them. Ok, there is another 15 minutes gone because she is too lazy to call herself. Or it is MY fault because the a fucking doctor is too stupid to read a lab report from a week ago saying a drug interaction exists (only he is too stupid to find which one or which drug is involved). They won't approve refills cos they want your money from office visits dudes. Wake up. Doctors don't give a crap about you...Damn. Are you all stupid or just the majority who like Bush. Hey, most docs I know hate their jobs too, but the make 7 figure incomes...I don't. I wish I had NEVER gone to pharmacy school, but rather become a lawyer or fucking Sheriff where sitting on your ass doing nothing but getting paid is a spot where for some reason no one minds. As for the rest of you dumb ass customers, you dont even need about 70% of the meds you take. You are too stupid to consult because you cannot understand words like enantiomers or isomers or steady state levels. Mention the phrase "narrow therapeutic index with a drug like Dilantin", and you freeking head looks like Jack in the Box. Do u know what an ACE inhibitor for blood pressure is? Damn you are stupid. Howabout beta blockers? They've been on the market 47 years..ever hear of them. Bet u have heard of Xanax and hydrocodone though, right! You drug head should try some combos that only medicinal chemists know. Look, a pharmacist is a chemist, like it or not. he is just a medical chemist. Hey, All engineers are not electrical ones, get it?! Go ahead and go to pharmacy school if you think we have it easy, and in 3 months you will be ranting just like this. That is if you can pass one of the most difficult educational programs of college in this country (6 college years of hell). But by all means, why does filling a Rx take so long. I tell you why. We aint fixing a taco a Taco Bell dumbass, we are trying to provide you with the correct medication so you do overdose or kill your dumbass self. gfa

Anonymous said...

that is amazing. so f-in true. well written

jenzhere99 said...

I feel that you have put into writing an average day for me at my pharmacy.

I'm so relieved that others know what we go through every day and I'm also so very upset that it's the same everywhere else.

I have long since begun to see the downward spiral of mankind through the customers at my pharmacy, but it disheartens me to see that its not just local.

Stay strong, my friend.

Shelby said...

This is just so awesome. I am a dietitian, and my burned out colleagues are always bitching that they wish they had become pharmacists instead because then their lives would be perfect and they would be making bank. Ha! I will be passing this link around to all the RDs I know who bitch about their jobs. Thanks and kudos.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I that is one reason why I hate being a pharmacist.

Anonymous said...

Someone mentioned forgetting about the drive thru. Im a tech and when people drop of thier new scripts at the drive thru we ask what time they would like to come back for it. Theres always the "asap" reply, the "well cant you just give it to me now its only 20 pills". I usually reply with a standard 1hour limit for non-waiting dropoffs. People get pissed "OMG an hour! Its only a Z-pak you just have to slap a label on it" God forbid a tech makes a mistake and we give you 500mg dosepack instead of the 250mg pack. I tell my customers getting irrate over something like that wether its a Zpak or a narcotic every script is treated the same Its for you own health and safety and the pharmacists liscense.

Then we run into insurance issues for that drivethru script try to contact the person at home only to get the machine. Then they come back through the drivethru only to get P.O'd thier script isnt ready, collect their insurance card and ask them to either come in side or drive around. Only to refuse to move from the drivethru therefore holding up the line and pissing off the people behind them. Sometimes takeing 2-3 techs to get the person to move thier car, weve even had to call the cops on some occasions and make them move.

Too many times we've been tempted to say "would you like fries with that" when they expect thier script to be done in 2 snaps of a finger. And theres always that one customer honking in the drive thru thats usually about the 3rd or 4th car then gets to the window and complains that they had to wait for 10mins in that line. We tell the customer the drivethru is for convenience not speed this isnt Burgerking its a pharmacy. Ofcourse the customer has to exclaim that it wasnt convenient for them to wait in that line. Or reply is convenience for the elderly,mothers with childern, and people that unable to walk into the store (i.e. just had surgery)

Then theres always the customer that KNOWS their is an insurance issue or we called and ask them to bring thier insurance card with them when they come to pick up...only to pull up to the drive thru. Dear lord if you know theres a problem with the script or have new insurance that we need to put on file, if your capable of comming inside then do so...dont come thru the damn drivethru becuase were going to ask you to come inside or drive around anyway while we work on it.

I work in one of the busiest pharmacies in my state the lines are never ending inside and outside. We have on average 3 pharmacist and 6-10 techs on at once and fill on average of about 800-1200 scripts per day pending the day of the week and time of year. So thats 1200scripts that need to be typed...1200scripts that have the potential for insurance issues...and 1200 scripts that need to be checked by only those 2-3 pharmacist. And you wonder why your script wasnt ready on time.

Anonymous said...

Im glad someone around here has realized that getting a rx filled in a pharmacy is not a walk in the park i mean damn people just expect you to
just have their drugs magically appear while they are standing there waiting for it and im thinking yeah let me just squat down and shit it out of my ass. I work at CVS(Come Visit Satin) and every day is a damn struggle. Im finally getting out but its been a hellatious 2 years and I need a change and I love the people that come in with they're state funded insurance and expect it to be .50 or free when the insurance kicks back that 2.00 co-pay on some fucking Avandia and they bitch and complain on how its supposed to be free or .50 cents and all I want to do and say "look here bitch this is
a 100 dollar something drug take and shut the fuck up"

ChloeB said...

The perfect comeback to the customer who asks "How long does it take to slap a label on a bottle - I'll come back there and do it myself in 2 seconds" is to ask if they would like the RIGHT bottle, or if you should just pick one for them at random!
I just wish I was brave enough to actually say it :)

Anonymous said...

Fast food pharmacy is what it is.
At least at CVS where I regularly do 14 hour shifts, 650+ prescritions, with no other pharmacist help.

Coming are the two drive in windows, drop off at the front of the building followed by pick-up at the back, just like the burger place across the street.
Your Oxycontin, Xanax, and Soma in 5 minutes, guaranteed, will be flashing on the sign out front!

I just love the "promised" time at the top of our CVS (which my tech trainer said means "come visit the slaves") receipts.
And the way they changed the time to 1 hour (used to be 2) if the dumb-ass didn't put in a time on the refill calls.
And the only thing worse than the welfare drug addicts are the disability drug addicts.
At my store all these "pain" doctors and clinics aren't doing anything but putting drugs on the street.
Like the disability guy driving a new 2007 'vette through the drive through to pick up his 180 Oxycontin 80mg, 90 Oxycontin 40mg, 3 boxes of Duragesic 100mcg patches(all brand), and 240 Oxycodone 15mg.

It's pretty easy to figure it out.

But most of all I have figured out why all these drug addicts hate us so much: 'cause they know we get all those drugs they want so much for free, anytime we want them, as much as we want.

But what the hell, we got a 98 triple S score this month!

one-angry-tech said...

We only got a 93 :(

Anonymous said...

i want cvs to die

Soon to be ex-tech said...

I'm not a pharmacist, but I am a pharmacy tech. Sadly, everything you wrote is true, and after 8 years in pharmacy, it's gotten bad enough that I'm going to turn in my resignation this week. I'm sick of customers who drop off their prescription at one window, then immediately to the pick-up window and expect it to be ready. Then there are the constant calls from people who expect us to be able to tell them their co-pays, deductibles, etc. We're about to get a drive-thru, and instead of getting more tech hours to help with that, our hours are being cut. I'd recommend to anyone who wants to go into pharmacy that they rule out retail, especially in a grocery store!

Anonymous said...

awesome and so true. i recently left the retail life to become a pharmacy auditor. my new job isn't exactly fun but it's way better than retail. i remember when a drive thru customer got out of his car and walked between the window and the car that was being served to yell at me for it taking so long and shove their rx through the window, and yes it happened more than once.

Anonymous said...

SIMPLY AMAZING GOOD READ!

phoenixineohp said...

That's a great explanation. I've always wondered, but chalked it up to the elderly blind people (who can't remember what drug it is and when to take it, can't read the writing or open the bottles and have no one to look after them) who I see every time I go to fill something.

But I hate to tell you this, but you see, you can have days like that anywhere if you have to deal with people. People are stupid. Retail can be hell. I work in the pet industry with a focus on reptiles. Imagine trying to deal with/answer someone who wants a pet cobra and is convinced that their neighbor has a spitting viper, has been envenomated by a boa and 'was a man so he could handle it'. They also think that their snake wants to eat a live adult chicken and that they have been able to keep their turtle small by keeping it in a small tank. Least in your case the person can (hopefully) only harm themselves.

On the other hand, I'm sure that retail is a direct cause of some of your customers. ;)

mel said...

That's why walgreens took (no lie) 20 hours to fill a script for me (I swear to God)

Anonymous said...

This is awesome! I thought I was the only one in the world who had stupid customers, lame ass questions and crappy help from the other end. I think I am going to print this off and stuff it in RX bags along with all the other stupid shit we put in there. Great Job!!!

Anonymous said...

this is great..... there should also be apart that the person leave and comes through drive-thru then wants a price match.... and then comes back in 5 min and you are still on hold b/c they think it is on the 4 dollar list... well it isnt and 45 minutes later.. it saves the person 48 cents on there lorazepam and then they say its wrong and wont it run on insurance which then gives them a 50 cent copay....

femmme said...

Im not a pharmacist but I have waited. The only thing you dont address is how usually there are 6 pharmacists at the spot and one speaks English and they are doing all the work so they don't deal with the customers. This leaves the customers to use sign language with a nonspeaking *pharmacist*
hey, I should write a customer view!
great writing!
cheers

Anonymous said...

PERFECT description of an average day in any pharmacy. You have to work in one to know that it is all TRUE!!!!

heath said...

I really like the part about how the insurance cards never have the carrier on them and you have to call and see who is the true third party...

Anonymous said...

I like what ChloeB said... Okay, but make sure you pick the right bottle!

I'm glad I've always been patient at the pharmacy-honestly? I don't want these folks to mess up, I will be glad to wait to make sure they can get the RIGHT product to me! Of course, I've been on the other side, in Customer Service, not as a pharmacist or tech, but in other industries... I'm sorry, you want the right product because I don't want to pay for you to ship it back to me! Of course in YOUR industry it can be DEADLY!

Thank you for a great read, and something many need to learn. Tempted to post on the bulletin boards in my local grocery/drug stores so others can learn as well. Good luck, God Bless, thank you for saving the rest of us from our own ridiculousness!

Tiredtechtg said...

Wow! What a relief to find this blog after a wonderful night in the pharmacy where no one seems to understand you. I work in an HMO and let me tell you, aside from the bread aisle questions, this all rings so true! Our frustration is in the whole workings of the system.In our case.. the right hand doesn't know what the left is doing; nursing, lab, xray and forget the providers themselves knows how anything else works in the facility. They just tell lies to keep themselves out of hot water...The providers never pay attention to our "formulary" and they send the patient to the pharmacy without checking to see if we have it in stock (we don't usually carry non-formulary drugs in stock, thus the FORMULARY!) So, the patient waits only to find out they have to come back to get it another day and it is our
fault! I'm like your doctor knows
what is on our formulary, I am sorry that he did not check first to see if we needed to order it or not We have always had a formulary, it is nothing new." God! I want to say that! Also, I am so tired of hearing how we are over-staffed to this day when 2 years ago we had 9 pharmacists and now we have 4! I work nights, so by that time we are down to 1 pharmacist. God forbid the phone should ring with a copy, the doctor did not realize you are on coumadin and prescribed septra ds, I also have a doctor waiting on hold with a question and 4 people waiting for consults! Hey, "How long does it take? You just have to slap a label on it?"...okay, fine, next time I will hurry up and ignore that you are on nitro while you are taking your Viagra! Knucklehead...

Madstampermmk said...

I have been a Pharmacy Technician for going on 11 years and have seen this senerio so many times. Thanks for putting it into words so those who are not in our profession can hear a little of our frustration! I had the same situation happen a couple of weeks ago..only difference is that the girl couldn't get her insurance right, so I had to tell her "If you want to leave with the Rx today you have to pay cash, or I can give you the hardcopy back to take somewhere else, or you can come back when the insurance thing is situated." She was not happy with her options, but then again if it's not what the Vicodin people want to hear they are never happy!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Canadian Pharmacist here. Where I practice you have to add 2 additional layers.

1. Doctors can not call in narcotics or controlled substances so they have to be written on a special triplicate Rx pad.
a)which means that we cannot accept narcs and controlled Rxs from Doctors in other provinces, yes, this means you
b)we also cannot accept faxed N or C drugs, yes, this means you, doctor

2. The claim must be processed through our provincial Prescription Monitoring Program which automatically flags prescriptions for overuse, misuse, abuse, and forgeries. Which is moderately helpful. Except:
a)they updated the doctors prescription pads and changed the unique identifiers but many doctors continue to use the old pads which are not valid and require a phone call to correct
b)claims need to be processed through PMP before third party plans and they are often not compatible
c)PMP shuts down for 1-7 hours between midnight and 7am. Because no one would try to scam drugs at 3am

But I do enjoy the ability to tag a forger in the system. I can't get over how bad they are at it. Still, one supposes they are stoned.

Anonymous said...

To all you pharmacists.
I practiced for over 40 years. I am now retired.
Life is good..no insurance companies...no phone...no schedule...no multi-tasking.
If you can get through your career without the need for Prozac, Zantac or Diazepam consider yourself a winner.
LIFE IS GOOD !!!!

neumeindil said...

I just printed this (2 years after you wrote it) to show to my coworkers tomorrow. I'm a 30 hr. RxTech who worked 42.5 hrs. last week because we're 4 people short of staff in a retail store running about 3,500/week. One of my RPhs, I know, will come close to peeing her pants reading this, partially because it's fuckin' hilarious and partially because, when I get there at 12:30, she'll have been there since 6AM with no bathroom break, her coffee developing that hours old film of dust and curdled milk that it gets when it sits forgotten for too long.

How have you lasted this long in this profession?

DrugMonkey, Master of Pharmacy said...

neumeindil,

16 years, and it hasn't gotten any better since i wrote that.....

Anonymous said...

I've only worked in hospital rx & I
considered changing but very glad
I didnt. Hospital rx can be just as bad--you are dealing with more
stupid people, unfortunately ones that you would think would be more
intelligent--but no. By the way was
there a mind reading class in pharmacy school that I missed some
MD and nurses seem to think so! Some days I would just like to give
everyone a prozac or a laxative to
keep themselves busy & leave us alone. I think they forget that we
like to do things right & that does
not mean it gets done in 2 seconds. If the retail window @ the hospital is closed then its
CLOSED--just b/c the inpatient pharmacy is open doesnt mean a employee can pick up at script anytime they want. Try going to another dept. & getting something
done if the outpatient area isnt open--that includes the cafeteria. Hurrah to you I plan to print the
article out for all of my pharmacist friends! Hurrah to all the pharmacists that continue to provide good care to our idiot consumers!!!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this! I work in a pharmacy too and everything you said was right on..I love when you ask for an address and the respond, "oh i dunno my dr's address.." what's worse is after all that they do pull out an insurance card that they didn't have earlier..then you have to do your job twice! And customers who cannot say Thank You...REALLY rubs my nerves..i tried my best to help them and i can't even get a thank you..love your blogs!

Marie said...

I'm not a pharmacist, just a customer. I've never had a prescription take more than half an hour, and I've never had to wait more than five minutes in order to speak with a pharmacist. I've never run into a pharmacist who was unfamiliar with my medication. In fact, I'd rather talk to a pharmacist about medications than a doctor any day, because the pharmacists seem to know ... well, everything.

Do you pharmacists really think that way about us?

BrokenSanity said...

My god it's like I've stepped into a time warp and gone back six years to the days I was a tech. It is shit like this happening day in and out, the constant bending over so angry customers can stomp in and out of my ass like it had a turn gate in front of it, and fighting the constant urge to replace elderly viagra patients pills with carefully carved altoids that made me change my major, thus going from pre-pharm to creative writing. I willingly took a pay cut to go work at a factory that constantly had various bits of shrapnel flying at me because. It was less stressful than being behind the counter, or more appropriately in the trenches. I have been in the process of writing a book about a pharmacist who has had enough of this shit and starts fighting back. With any luck it will one day be a best seller and make people think twice about bitching at you all over their co-pay going up five cents, and calling you a mother f***ing thief.

jin said...

"The most beautiful woman on the planet walks buy and notices not a thing. She has never talked to a pharmacist and never will."

Oh, so sorry. That was me. I was just heading to the imported chocolate section. But had I known it was you...

Anonymous said...

Just as I've always said (and I've been a pharmacist for 20 years), PHARMACY IS NOT A PROFFESION.....just stop kidding yourselves....Professionals dont alow themselves to have to stand for 12 hrs straight, professionals dont have to punch a clock, professionals work at their OWN desk, professionals aren't the first line of access to the public...should I go on about no bathroom breaks, food breaks etc...yada yada yada....Its our OWN faults for not uniting...I would like to strangle all the professors and all of our so called leaders for spreading the myth that we are a valued part of healthcare....bull,....we are simply GRUNTS to take crap all day long...LOOK in the mirror and WAKE UP...

Anonymous said...

hahahaha... as reading through this i thought to myself, sounds like this guy works for walgreens cuz they r so gung ho about customer service, they want us to call the dr if they haven't called us yet... then reading people's responses, half of them r talking about walgreens... i have ben a technician for walgreens for 2 yrs and this is so f-ing true. my firned who is in pharmacy school in colorado told me i had to read this cuz its the funniest and most truthful thing ever. I'm in california and it's nice to see that this happens everywhere! customers are so stupid sometimes. my favorite thing though is when they call to see if it's ready.. I say yes, it's $5, their responses, so I can pick it up? my thoughts, yes u dumb fuck i said it's ready and it's $5, im not holding it hostage, come get your shit i dont have time for this

Anonymous said...

All I can say is God Bless all the Pharmacists and their techs, not to mention cashiers. As a nurse in the mental health field, I have to say we have it no better on the other end of the phone, and HIPPA -well don't even get me started. I propose that all the legislators who enact all the insane laws that impede our daily tasks be required to do community service one day a week for a year while we earn their daily salary and they go home with ours. By the way, could you please forward this to President Elect Obama.....?

Trish L Hernandez said...

As a fellow RPh I identify with this scenario! Thank you for setting the record straight for all those thousands of patients who indeed want to know "why their prescription is taking to long to fill...it's just #20 pills after all"

Anonymous said...

im a pharmacy intern who is going to be a pharmacists in 2 years and im dreading it already oh god hahaha
but even if im not a pharmacist i feel your pain at work

LuvBugs said...

I absolutely LOVE this. I have been a tech for 13 years and this happens everyday and then some. I work in retail and there are days I'd rather pull my teeth out than walk through those front doors. Not only do you have to deal with all the day to day pharmacy crap you also have to stand there and ring up cart loads of crap while you have five people standing in line watching and rolling their eyes along with you. It never gets any easier it gets worse. Now not only do I hate my job, the company we work for went from giving nickels and dimes as raises they now have blocked all raises until further notice, have changed around vacation requirements and anything else they can think of to make you even more unhappy, but stil expect you to give 100% customer service with a smile. Give me a break. Retail Pharmacy sucks. And I have to say 85 percent off all pharmacy customers are idiots. I would love to take your post and blow it up to movie theater screen size and display it outside the building for all to see. And yes we also have a drive through and NO it is not for speed service. How many times a day do I have to see someone roll their eyes when you tell them an hour, if you dont like it, get out of your damn car and come in. Your legs arent broke. Anyways, I could go on and on. One of these days me and some of my tech friends will have to start a Tech Blog, I've wanted to for years. I love this site. Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

I'm trying to stop laughing so I don't get in trouble at work. I'm supposed to be on the way to P&T. I should e-mail this to my customer that asks this question every month that he comes to the pharmacy. He swears up and down that he's going to stop coming to the pharmacy but he keeps coming for my 2 hr wait.

Reebies said...

That was pure gold...and sad because that happens to me daily! I have accepted my fate, but have no problem reminding im-patients that they have a choice in pharmacies, and maybe someone else could fill it faster? (while smiling) I have to print this story out for my slice of retail hell. I fight letting the general public ruin my optimism for our species, there are a lot of us that have not come very far since the advent of soap, water, please and thank you. Nice work, so glad I'm not alone in frustration.

Anonymous said...

...so where's the bread??

Anonymous said...

[And in between...

The phone rings: CVS Corporate asks for the Pharmacy FAX number, since Corporate can't be bothered to keep its Contact List current. I stop serving customers and filling prescriptions, and go write down the FAX number written on the machine. Then I read it off to the drone on the phone.
...

The phone rings: The CVS phone drone tells me that they will send me a really important FAX, and to wait for it.

...

The phone rings: The CVS phone drone wants to know if I got the Corporate FAX. I stop everything and go the ONLY FAX machine in the store to check its output - read the important info - then go back to the phone to tell the dummy drone on the phone that we successfully received the notification from Corporate that the Care Bear items listed for next week's ad will indeed arrive on time. I promise on my mother's grave that I will transmit that momentous news to the front-end manager ASAP.]

Anonymous said...

Thank you for summing up my average day!

Anonymous said...

So true... everything there has happened to me. Usually on the same person, as you say.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE this blog! I worked in Walgreen's pharmacy as a cashier and was going to go to pharmacy school until I decided on a graduate program in pharmacology and toxicology instead. I have so much admiration for the patience people working in the pharmacy have. I remember days where my patience would be worn down to nothing and I'd be exhausted after having literally working 9 hours straight with no breaks. I cannot even imagine how the pharmacists and technicians felt.

To begin with there were never enough people working in the pharmacy because the person in charge of the schedule who managed the store apparently didn't know how to set up a schedule. Drive thru was the bane of my existence. I remember crazy busy days where there would be two cashiers, a pharmacist and a technician working. Drive thru would be packed with people as well as the cash register. The phones would be ringing off the hook and people would want us to ring up an entire grocery cart of groceries and find a variety of coupons for them. I actually had people demand I do their grocery shopping for them from the drive thru window. There was several times I was running through the store as I picked up items from their list. There would people at drive thru handing you 10scripts as once expecting it to be done in a snap when there was an entire pile of scripts that came before them. I hated prior authorization or when insurance wouldn't cover the medication because the patient went over on their allotted amount. The second drive thru would malfunction all the time and we would put a trash can in the way with a sign that read it wasn't working. People would actually GET out of their cars to move the trash can out of the WAY. Then they would be livid when we could not help them and they needed to get behind the other people in line at first drive thru. I remember people literally screaming at me over insurance issues and prior autherization issues which were completely out of my hands and control.

Kudos to you. =)I really enjoyed reading this.

Anonymous said...

OMG!!! I love it... As a pharmacist who used to work retail I completely get it!!

Anonymous said...

You forgot to add "when I ask you for an insurance card you go out to your car and bring in a letter from your car insurance agency" Brilliant

Sarah said...

Absolutely perfect. I wish I could print this out and give it to every snarky customer that comes up to my counter.

I may give it to my fellow techs for a laugh.

Kathy said...

I can sympathize. It's the same in the tech support field. The worst people to deal with are the ones who are both stupid AND demanding. I feel your pain.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the toothpaste.

Christine said...

I had a co-worker ask me to get her some Tylenol in the pharmacy upstairs once. I've always been torn over whether to be proud of the fact that she wouldn't take medication that she wasn't familiar with, and wasn't going to trust me when I explained that the bottle of acetaminophen I brought her was what she asked for, or really exasperated that she will take Tylenol and not know what she was taking.

I feel really sorry for the pharmacists that I'm dealing with. My insurance is messed up, and it won't accept the direct charge. (I can submit my receipts no problem though). I'm just accepting it, it's not the end of the world (I get paid every 4 months, so a delay in my money isn't a major problem normally). The pharmacists always try to fix the problem though...

Anonymous said...

I am a pharmacist who just discovered your blog. Very insightful. You have a great writing style.

I also see that the future will get worse as there are numerous new schools putting out pharmacist graduates, but the chains and hospitals will not be willing to hire more bodies due to "cost cutting". Beprepared for salaries and benfits to freeze or decrease. Maybe I am pessimistic because I have been in pharmacy for 21 years and remember when the salaries were much lower. By the way, as you have posted, the daily work has not improved over those same years!

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is so true! Customers will never understand what we have to go through and that sucks!!!

Anonymous said...

The one thing that has not been mentioned that I can't stand is when a "patient" is always trying to get their controled meds early. They will argue, beg, come up with every excuse they can think of, threaten to go somewhere else, lie, cheat steal, whatever they can think of. I'm sorry but you can't have your 30 day supply of Lortabs 5 days after you just had it feeled. Why don't you understand?

Erin said...

I've just finished my 1st year of Pharmacy school, which I decided to enter after 11 months in a hospital. This summer I decided I'd work in retail for a change of pace. I've worked there 2 days so far...poor choice.

Anonymous said...

I don't even work in the pharmacy at my drug store chain, I only work in the front end. Nevertheless, I have helped out in the pharmacy before, and it still makes me want to laugh when people honestly think that filling a prescription consists of simply putting a label on a bottle and counting pills. There's a crap ton of red tape, difficult customers who INSIST that they should be taken care of before everyone else...

The acetaminophen/Tylenol and hydrocodone/Vicodin references made me giggle though. Especially the acetaminophen ones. I know on all our store brand packages of acetaminophen there is a note in the corner saying to compare it to -insert Tylenol equivalent- here.

Jeremy said...

Just want to add my "This is my life" comment along with all the rest. I'm a tech at a big box and I can't think of a worse setup for a pharmacy including being dangled as shark bait... or.. anyhow...

Anonymous said...

I learned a long time ago to call in my refills, to the automated machine or have my doctor fax my script...I see cutomers all the time acting like idiots...I think all the drug stores do a great job and get no credit what so ever...this is one customer who does not bother them...I go on my merry way after picking up my scripts. It would be nice if other people did the same, but hey what fun would that be...I can go to walMart and get free entertainment..

paul said...

I'm a Pharmacy Tech in the UK. From reading your blog, i can tell that there are many vast differences to US & UK pharmacy, but OMG there are some things that are the same the world over. . .
Love it!
(p.s. We don't ALWAYS go to lunch at the most inconvenient time!)

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for spending a day with me! After tech-ing for 30 years in retail pharmacy...I though that I was the only one shell-shocked!

Anonymous said...

I'd like to point out, the life-saving prescription for a topical cream was written 3 month ago. If it took you three months to get it to me, can I have about 30 minutes to fill it?

Other rantings: Birth control pills (stupid pills) need to be taken every day, not just when you have sex. Sterilization is always an option (but should be mandatory for some).

After 17 years at the same PT mom & pop store, I getting ready to go on a killing spree. The new owner is a jerk, I think my quitting present to him will be to secretly reporgram the barcode scale so that he dispenses 61 tablets instead of 60. Hello narcotic inspection!

Jeanna said...

Hi there.. I know this is an old post, but I just wanted you to know that I'm one of those nice folks who doesn't mind waiting a long time for my prescriptions. I didn't know exactly what a 'day in the life' of a pharmacist entailed (until I read this post of yours), but I always assumed you guys were extremely busy. I don't know why anyone would assume otherwise, and don't know why people get so upset at having to wait. I usually just go browse in the makeup aisle, or whatever, and happily wait for my name to be called. Pharmacists perform a wonderful service and I am very appreciative of you guys. Thank you. :)

Anonymous said...

This sounds pretty accurate to what a work day at a bank is like, subtract the drug related stuff and add in banky stuff and a bunch of minut interest rates that matter very little but customers just like that act like its the difference between life or death! plus a bunch of assholes that act like your the devil cause you won't give a refund. when they knew they were overdrawing your account in the first place.

tristeza272 said...

Now, let's try that with Medicaid or Medicare and add the complaints of why their rx doesn't cost 50 cents.... Gotta love retail.

redhairedgirl said...

Why do people say you've filled for them before when you haven't? I always wonder....do they really not realize that they've never been to your store before? Or do they think that if they answer "no", we'll refuse to fill for them?

Anonymous said...

amazing! and understandable, and realistic. completely relate-able. great blog!!

Anonymous said...

I read this a few years back as a forwarded email. Laughed my ass off back then, and it still holds absolutely true to this day. Another little part of me died.

Sarah said...

This may be an old post, but it's still hilarious, and true today. Great job writing it!

Anonymous said...

I intend to memorize this and recite/perform it to a customer when the time comes.

Anonymous said...

My favorite part of this was "Another little part of me dies". I now say this all the time at work!!

I also 'enjoy' when people complain about how long their prescription took and then ask to ring up a cart full of crap.

Anonymous said...

Been working in a Pharmacy for nearly 5 years, and I can totally relate. This is awesome! THANK YOU!

Anonymous said...

Rip on walmart all you want, but with the $4 dollar program 70% percent of our business is cash, so we don't deal with insurance that much. Also, they offered more than CVS, Walgreens and the other chains that I looked into (Safeway, Fry's, Albertson's, etc). Also, my store is only open from 9-7 and we have two pharmacists from open to close. I never saw that at walgreens or cvs...even when they were doing 800 a day.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

You've got it down to the tee! No wonder we are stressed out and grumpy especially after a long week. I must admit, it was painful to read because it was sooo true!

Anonymous said...

Here is where a big part of me died working in pharmacy - A man comes in and wants to know where the lice medication is. I show him and he comes back to the counter with me and buys two boxes.

About 3 hours later, the same man comes back with one box of the lice medication and wants to return it for his money back. I ask him if he has the receipt and he hands it to me.... soaking wet... and calmly states "The box said it would work on crabs. It doesn't." Not only did I have to process the transaction with a straight face while my RPH was behind me turning 3 shades of red from trying to hold in his laughter... but I had to touch the box, his hand and his wet receipt! Let's just say that bleach burns the skin on your hands.

And do you really want to be the one bitchin that there's no one there to wait on you while I'm washing my hands for you?

patroy60@ said...

So glad I'm not a pharmacists!

Mags said...

I was just in the Walmart pharm the other day, sitting on the "It'll just take a few minutes" bench for 45 minutes thinking, "HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO COUNT TO THIRTY?" Now I feel bad. But I'm always nice to people who work retail, especially the ones who could "accidentally" taint my meds with a powerful laxative if they got irritable with me.

The Ole' Apothecary said...

This is your best post, and should be made into a pamphlet for your Rx checkout window.

Anonymous said...

OMG, I am SO sorry my profession has come to this sorry mess. I've been RPh since 1972. I will retire in 158 days. The best thing I ever did was escape from retail (RiteAid) just before it imploded, in 1978. I have a job with the VA, most of my patients love us, I'm happy as a clam and have NO insurance crap to do. I can't imagine how miserable you guys are and I'm so, so, sorry.

kaylon jones said...

Well said! Love this blog! I was a retail pharmacist for 20 years and I'm insane now.

kaylon jones said...

I'm finally leaving retail pharmacy after 20 years. Hated every minute of it. If I wasn't picked on by customers, it was the store managers who were jealous that my paycheck was better than theirs. The paycheck wasn't worth the stress.

Tia said...

Oh my good lord. Every word here is practically a timeline for my own pharmacy.

What's sad is that we're one of the slowest pharmacies in my company since the store is still new. I'd hate to imagine working at one of the larger, busier stores.

Anonymous said...

The above is exactly why I no longer work as a retail pharmacist!!!!!

Anonymous said...

if this does not sound like my exact life in a pharmacy, nothing else would ever come close! you hit this on the head!

Anonymous said...

This gave me the shakes reading it. Now add in 3 people wanting flu shots and 2 people marching off in disgust b/c I couldn't answer their question right then. I have been off work for 4 1/2 weeks with a cast on my right foot from stress fractures that haven't healed even though I've been getting them treated all summer. With no breaks and no ability to sit down at all during an 8-9 hr shift, my foot just wouldn't heal. Why do I do this? I had some crazy thought that I could actually help people....

Beth said...

And you've also just answered the question, "Why I won't leave my crappy hospital job to go back to retail full time".

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget the people that want to complain to the pharmacist about how long it is taking

Anonymous said...

I love this story the daily life in the pharmacy the only thing I would change is instead of where is the bread do u have the key to the bathroom no I don't the sign on the door says the key is at the front cashier and I would post it at work if I didn't think they would fire u because of it our job promises a prescription in 15 minutes

Mishqueen said...

I understand that working in a pharmacy is hard and frustrating, and that the customer often makes things almost ridiculous.

I have been a Walgreens customer for the last 7 years. I've been on their file for 7 years. I have the same prescriptions, just happily refilling for the last 7 years. They always know exactly who I am, and exactly what I want.

Yet, it doesn't matter if I schedule a week ahead, a day ahead, or an hour ahead...it is never, ever ready. I even get the EMAIL that it's ready, and I show up and it's not ready. I have been told to stand around and wait for an hour until they get done with it, after having been told it would be ready when I got there.

I have never once seen the prescription be ready when I arrive. I KNOW I haven't done anything to impede them, or mess with them. Can you explain this?

Anonymous said...

Ahhh, but my friend, you should be on the INSURANCE side of this (Workers' Comp).

I'm out of it now, but I was an adjuster for 30 years.

"Hello, Adjuster here, how may I help you?"

"Hi, this is Suzie Q from Pharmacy X, and we have Bill Jones here (in a dirty wifebeater) trying to get a script for Vicodin from Dr. Smith. Will this be covered?"

me: "Ok, Ms. Q, do you have any identification of this man? I'm not able to pull him up in the system."

"He says he was injured on the job!"

"Ok, but I can't find a claim on him. Do you have his SSN?" "We can't get those any more due to HIPAA". "Ok, do you have his address? Employer name? Anything?"

"No."

"Well, I'm sorry, but we can't authorize when we have no info."

"Oh, he says he works for "Big Corporation"."

"Ok, we don't insure "Big Corporation." We insure "GigantorCorp" and "HugemousCorp", but not "Big Corp".

"Do you know who does?"

"Um, no."

"Well, may I speak to your supervisor? I don't think you're being very helpful."

To the pharmacy's credit, the pharmacies are MUCH easier to deal with than the almight Doctors' offices, because after all, a Doctor is only one step below God (well, maybe they used to be, not so sure they're not smarter than God now...).

Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Being a pharmacist sucks the life out of you every day of your career! I started practicing 20 years ago and am sooooo glad I never got the PharmD degree...because if I had a doctoral degree and still had to put up with all the abuse we suffer on a daily basis (from patients, nurses and especially doctors!) and couldn't prescribe medication or be an independent practitioner, I'd truly go postal! Just say, "NO", kids!!!!

Catti-Brie said...

I am amongst the lucky few that only has to use a pharmacy twice a year to get insulin for my cats... I learned that you drop off at the beginning of your errands and pick up on the way home. And do your best to smile, be polite, and have a little patience.... Paying completely out of pocket also tends to make this process easier.

Anonymous said...

I'm a technician and this happens on at least 50% of the days that I work. Just a few days ago, we were in the middle of this kind of situation and a lady starts screaming at me because how can it take us so long to drop 2 vitamin D capsules in a bottle and she'd already been waiting 20 minutes in line...Didn't seem to realize that all those people 20 minutes in front of her were waiting, too. All of them also have insurance issues and want their scripts a week early. Honestly, it's vitamin D. Do you need to wait for that? You take it once a week, seriously. It's not life threatening. Come back later.

Ted and Donna said...

This in genius all on it's own. I do have to say though, since I changed to a small town pharmacy, they will have my script ready in 15 min. The downside to this is they are not open on weekends...but I love my Family Pharmacy!
BTW, I printed this to share with them, they will love it!

Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention people ringing the bell at the drive-through who are too lazy to actually walk into the store. And then you have a company like Rite Aid who thinks its a genius idea to offer a 15 minute guarantee... Not worth going into loads of student debt for this type of a job!

thatone said...

well written and really captures the stress of a pharmacist (I am not one)

Anonymous said...

This is so great and so true. Everyone seems to think our job is so easy if only they really knew what we go through.

Anonymous said...

poetry, man.......pure poetry.

Anonymous said...

i had this guy come up a week ago at 6pm asking to fill his script. we close at 6. we told him it would be tomorrow. he comes back at 6:01 ((cuz my tech is finishing re processing an insurance card for a customer, and he says. can't u just fill it? its only 6:01. he said are you the manager i said no he'll b here tomoorw :D and he got my name. these customers.... unbelievable

Anonymous said...

I have a solution to all this. You can call me an extreme case of "I've had it with this crap and moved to practice pharmacy in another country all-together". Now I am sure not all of you can pick up and leave, but being a pharmacist licensed in 3 states and now working in a foreign country I have a different perspective.
#1- Insurance: Americans tend to be spoiled, lazy and complain a lot. Insurance companies give them an excuse to be like that and most importantly to be irresponsible with regardless to their own health, time and time of others. Where I work now, Insurance companies do exist but PHARMACISTS have forced on the system a process where you pay then claim it yourself. Not someone for you (as in the pharmacist- pro-bono!!). That's right you bring a prescription, PAY for it, then go home and call your insurance yourself to process a claim and a refund. What happens if it's not on their formulary! well tough luck...you're screwed! But next time you know better to take that little formulary book with you and check in the book when you see your doctor that the med is on the list. (it's called being responsible! a pharmacist should not be doing this on your behalf...again PRO-BONO!!).

#2- Chain pharmacies: Should be outlawed!! That's right...you heard it correct...OUTLAWED. Pharmacists should form a lobby group and pressure lawmakers to return our Profession to PHARMACISTS not chain money-hungry corporations. A pharmacy is a free standing entity. You go to it specifically for your medication/medical needs. Just like you go to a clinic or hospital. There is not Photolab + gorceries + shopping... It should not be approached from a "marketing" perspective..."Oh what will the CLIENT do as he waits for his prescription!!". Pharmacies should be owned and licensed to Pharmacists only, in a free-standing pharmacy-only operation. (the country i work in now does not even license retail pharmacies in malls or commercial complexes, because it is unsafe to the public and degrades the profession...and this is a third world country I am in!!!)

What is needed for change is not "fixing" things, it's a whole new system. Unfortunately those that have the power remain silent and unorganized (because they are afraid of losing their job and their income). And those that benefit from this situation remain in power because they have the money and resources to have brain-washed the public to be dependent on this system and the pharmacist to think that they cannot survive without it. I call this corporate totaliatarianism! Can you change this !! Yes you can! Do you want to change...?

Anonymous said...

Maybe you should hire someone to answer the phone, someone to wait on the customers so you can concentrate on filling the scripts. There is alot of out of work people and you my friend seem to do enough work for 3 people. What this is telling me is that we have to put up with corporate greed. Sorry you are trapped in the middle. I would have just simply sent the man to the other pharmacy but you insisted on filling it because you wanted to make the money for your store.

Anonymous said...

To the person that posted at 3:40 am EST. You've obviously never worked in a pharmacy or worked in retail at all. The average person that is getting a prescription choose their their Pharmacy out of convenience. Telling a customer to go to the other pharmacy across town would not go well... Not to mention the Pharmacist was PUT ON HOLD both times they called the other pharmacy indicating that they were probably just as busy there, as at his pharmacy.

Also stating they should hire 3 new people in order to fill the "need" is asinine, there may be a labor need, but the amount of money being brought in is nowhere near enough to warrant bringing in 3 new techs!

Anonymous said...

This seems to happen every time I go to drop off or pick up a prescription with the person 1 or 2 people in front of me. I tend to apologize for others stupidity when its my turn...Now I completely understand why the pharmacist is shocked when I don't put up a fight when they tell me 2 hours, I just tend to reply with "I live down the street and I can pick it up later". Why don't people understand that you guys are doing your jobs, but that stupidity and insurance companies tend to hinder that!

Anonymous said...

Seems as if this pharmacy is one of the lucky few that doesn't have a drive-thru.....

Anonymous said...

to the jerk above my post ...its called customer service....to the jerk way above my post ...i wouldn't go to wal-mart FOR a prescription ....auto 2 hr wait ....i am NOT a pharmacist.....just a caregiver....i will take customer service anytime!!!

Anonymous said...

I have a CphT daughter and a PharmD daughter. Explains a lot!

Anonymous said...

This is so so true & decsribes my typical work day.

Anonymous said...

Walgreens is GAF. Gay as fuck

Anonymous said...

As a pharmacist of 4 years, and a technician for many years before this, you hit the nail on the head my friend. Patients don't seem to realize that all I do is count your pills and tell you to have a nice day with a shit-eating grin on my face. This article was very well written! Thank you so much for clearing up the joys of retail pharmacy. :)

Anonymous said...

The only thing you forgot was the part where they bring in a coupon that only works as a secondary billing agent after their primary insurance accepts the claim. The primary insurance however, requires Prior authorization which will take the MD days to get because they aren't willing to wait the 10 minutes on hold. Or maybe, the doctor already picked an arbitrary cheap price and promised the patient that no matter where they went, the prescription would not cost more than that, even though it is brand new to the market and only comes in brand name.... clearly i'm a bitter retail pharmacist.

Mark In Time said...

The only other two things that were missing that could have happened that day are, having the district manager there telling you "the store needs to be neater, cleaner and more organize, and The state board of Pharmacy inspector needs the next four hours of your time to do his annual inspection. Quoted from a pharmacist!!

Anonymous said...

This is hilarious and soooo true! I am so glad I dont work retail, but trust me I get the same misunderstanding about why it takes so long to get an IV from nurses! lol

Anonymous said...

This is freaking awesome...no one I believe could have said it any better.

Anonymous said...

I just moved back to the US after living eight years in Europe. I cannot believe the red tape pharmacists have to go through here and it's gotten worse in the eight years I was gone. I completely understand why it takes you two hours, and I feel sorry for you; only slightly less sorry than I feel for myself for waiting for the two hours.

In Europe, and most other places in the world for that matter, filling prescriptions is a five minute process. You stand in line for four minutes, and then spend the other minute watching the pharmacist look for your meds and paying. The only thing they are relatively strict about is pain medications and steriods. I've been given many medicines without prescriptions, because there is usually a pharmacist on duty who has taken extra courses and is allowed to dispense for things like broncitis, pink eye, and swimmer's ear.

This system works because of socialized medicine. It's easier to control how many "addictive" substances each person can take when there is one national database monitoring who is taking what. And knowing if a prescriptions is covered is easy when everyone has the same insurance.

Don't get me wrong... I don't advocate switching to socialized medicine. In fact, I don't think it's possible with our culture of crazy malpractice lawsuits and idiots looking to score pain meds. It's just sad that we're so far gone. Waiting two hours is the least of our problems in health care.

(And I hate to break it to you, but the healthcare over there is just as good. Don't believe stories from people against socialized medicine about waiting months for a biopsy... it's just not true.)

Anonymous said...

Thank you. Your story has confirmed that my decision to bail on the pharmacy game was correct.

Rachel said...

This? Was freaking HILARIOUS!! For me anyway. Because I'm not a pharmacist. Lawyer. Which could possibly be worse. Jury's still out on that one. Actually, my friend who IS a pharmacist posted a link here. So now I have a better understanding of why he's always in such a pissy mood. Thanks for that!

Liz said...

I am a former Pharmacy Tech, and let me tell you, you hit the nail on the head. I used to work in retail as a Nationally Certified Tech, and I went through this process a good 12 times a day average on an 8 hour shift at the drop off window. I used to want to go home and cry after work, or throw something, or scream. I have since gone to college and left the wonderful world of retail pharmacy, but I do not miss those days, just the people I worked with. People used to ask me the most ridiculous questions, and when I gave them the honest to goodness truth, I would get a blank stare and then an argument, because it wasn't the answer they wanted to hear. Getting irate, they would then say something rude about the pharmacy, the staff, or the wait time, and throw in the phrase "you people." That phrase still haunts me today. I have vowed to never use it myself, just because of the way it made me feel when I worked in pharmacy!

Anonymous said...

Do you have the oxycodone with the "m" on it. only those will work

Anonymous said...

Yep, don't forget to add the famous "where is the bathroom?" question asked from the CONSULTATION area when you are trying to ring up to a customer, answer the drive thru (1 &2), and trying to verify if the last Percocet prescription for 560 tabs (take 5 tabs every hour as needed) for another Medicaid recipient is legit....

Anonymous said...

I have to say that I have never worked in a pharmacy, however my pharmacists are wonderful and any normal person can look at your face an see the politely hidden frustration. I have been stuck behind these people many times and just to maybe comfort you all a little bit I do take this all into consideration and refuse to take more than 3 minutes. If I have a problem that is not related to the pharmacist I handle it on my time and return with the correct information. We need a national Pharmacist Appreciation Day for sure! Thank you to all of you that have the patience and heart to help us all!

Anonymous said...

My mom works in a pharmacy and I work the front cash at the same store. I hear about these kind of people every day from Mom, and deal with them coming to front cash to buy lotto cause "how stupid are those pharmacists of yours, taking so damn long?" so I can't really know exactly how ya feel, but i've got a good idea! the public suck. they really, really suck.

barecove said...

well done...thank you for your diligence

Anonymous said...

I'm in my 3rd year of pharmacy. And after reading this, my desire to drop out grew exponentially. It's so hard to get in, and then no one perceives you as anything more than a cashier in a labcoat :(.

Anonymous said...

Now i understand why my boyfriend switched to hospital and I'm working for mail-order lol

Anonymous said...

OMG. I love this. Thanks for making us all feel a little less alone in our insane-ness

Anonymous said...

I understand this and don't typically have any problems waiting for my prescription. I just make sure I have shopping to do while I have to wait, if needed. My only question is... why is the phone ringing more important that the customer you are currently helping. Isn't it more curious to let the phone ring and continue helping your customer? Just curious...

Anonymous said...

Love it, On top of all that, yesterday I had to give a flu shot and then ring up some Cheez its and a candy bar, smiling politely, or at least trying very hard to.

chad graue said...

Yes, and one of the reason I got out of the pharmacy rat race altogether..thanks for posting

Anonymous said...

I have worked in retail, customer service, call centers and food service but this may top them all. I am always nice to My pharmacist ...now i will be extra extra nice! Thank you for the eye opening profile. I never knew... my heart goes out to you poor souls!!

Anonymous said...

wow, my name is Renee and boy this story hits home with me being a pharmacy tech, this happens in 1-5 customers... ALWAYS like clock work. and the best part is we do all this work for you the customer and we NEVER even get a THANK YOU out of the customer. Just a simple thank you would be nice ALL THE TIME!!

Cubi said...

It is partly our own fault. Of course, "regulations", "consumer protection" from government for ever keep increase the different kind of things pharmacy have to jump through to get a prescription out of the door. It's also the kiss ass patient chain pharmacy managements that sacrifice real efficiency for kiss ass services. Pharmacists just get to please everyone, from the government down to the supermarket management, down to any guy on the street presenting at the window. Until the profession keeps taking in all the BS, they will continue to get more inefficient and ridiculous.

Michelle Myers said...

Well written!!!

Michelle Myers said...

Well written! I'm a tech and after 12 years not much has changed. Same thing day in and day out. But I have to admit, it's the ones who really do appreciate my help that makes the job well worth it.

Anonymous said...

In response to what the pharmacist working in another country said above:

I've been saying the same thing ever since I set foot in the world of pharmacy. My father (a retired dentist) said the same thing when we had a conversation about it. Someone else in this thread made a comment about there not being enough money to bring in more help at a retail pharmacy. Ohhhhhhhhh contraire mon frere! If corporations hadn't sucked up our profession in their giant vacuum cleaners in the late '70s, there would:
A) Be more independent, free standing pharmacies spread out more evenly in the community, and
B) Each of these free standing pharmacies would do a lower volume of prescriptions, allowing you to get your Rx in less time, with less chance of error, and with a better chance of talking to your Pharmacist about it (which is actually very important and beneficial).

What corporations do (and I'll try to make this as simple as possible, because it actually is VERY simple) is:
1) Establish a huge market presence through advertising and utilizing an existing brand name (Think Kroger, Fred Meyer, WalMart, etc.)
2) Using this marketing power, they draw customers away from existing pharmacies under the guise of convenience (shop while you wait).
3) Once they've pulled enough patients (yes, patients - stop calling them customers) away from the smaller independent pharmacies, effectively putting them out of business, they then:
4) Maintain the same number of pharmacy staff that it might take to run a small pharmacy and require them to fill 3-5 times the number of prescriptions that that small staff would normally fill. This effectively eliminates any time the pharmacist may have to counsel and answer questions.
5) Since this small staff is filling so many more prescriptions than they would actually need to make a modest profit, the extra profit goes to (you guessed it) a small group of lazy people who sit in a conference room all day thinking up ways to unnecessarily restructure our 'business' so they can make a larger profit, even though most of these people have never worked in a pharmacy and probably not even looked at a college level chemistry or biology book.

THESE VAMPIRES NOW OWN WHAT USED TO BE OUR PROFESSION. We need to take it back. It might be a struggle at first, but political action through the unified demands of pharmacists NEEDS to happen, or this will continue to get worse until eventually everyone at the pharmacy will be wearing uniforms and nametags... oh, wait.

Start with APhA. Let's get something started to reclaim our profession. We don't need corporate vampires to make it profitable or successful. A very successful independent pharmacist in my area told my class that in order to make 100K+ per year as an independent, we really only needed to fill about 70-75 scripts per day on average. Any guesses as to where that money from the extra 500-600 scripts is going? If you haven't figured it out by now, you're doomed.

I'll never forget what my father said to me:
"Pharmacists really shot themselves in the foot when they sold their profession to the big box stores. It used to be a cottage industry, just like dentistry, optometry and medicine. Now they're just employees."

My god, he was right. I should have gone into dentistry. Thankfully I don't work retail. Hopefully I'll never have to.

Anonymous said...

I feel your pain. As the owner of a veterinary clinic- a business which is, in part, dispensary- we deal with everything you wrote (apart from the Monster Truck magazine rack) on a daily basis. We've tried to enforce rules stipulating that there will be up to a 24 hour delay before your prescription gets filled, but there are ALWAYS exceptions- ran out of insulin 5 minutes before closing for a long weaken....did you NOT NOTICE that the level in the vial was going down, Butthead? Add to that the fact we're doing a few other things- medical consults, surgeries, giving away far too much free advice- it might take a few minutes to pull your file, review your case and respond to your request. Please remember- that wall of files behind the reception desk is not just for show- While you may be ''Our Most Important Client", you are not our only client. Please be patient.
One of my favourite phrases to use in practice which applies here is: "Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on ours". Too bad I can't generally say it to their face.

JUDY HEBERT KNIGHT said...

This, without a doubt, made my day, week, month, year, millinium..you get the drift...I'm a retired PCTB..and this is truly wonderful...and, unfortunately, so very true...lol

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