8 Patient Fibs Pharmacists Hate to Hear

MAY 17, 2016

When a patient lies to you, you may forgive the first offense, but if it continues, it can become tiresome. Worse yet, it can be dangerous and result in harmful drug interactions, higher treatment costs, or ineffective therapy.

In fact, a WebMD survey found that 32% of patients reported “stretching the truth” when dealing with their health care providers. Only 13% admitted to outright lying.
Additionally, patients between 25 and 34 years old were most likely to lie to their physicians, and they tended to lie about recreational drug use, sexual history, smoking, and alcohol consumption.

Here are 8 patient fibs pharmacists hate to hear:
1. Fib: “I always take my medications as prescribed.”
Reality: Thirty-eight percent of survey respondents lied about following their physician’s orders. The patient who says he never misses a dose may have forgotten to take his medication for an entire week. He may remember to take it for a day or 2, forget for 5 more days, remember the next week, and then forget again. Anticoagulation pharmacists know what I’m talking about.

2. Fib: “I rarely drink.”
Reality: Sixteen percent of survey respondents lied about how much or how often they consume alcohol. Twenty-four percent of men reported lying about alcohol use, compared with 15% of women. Your patients’ happy hour may last from 4 PM until last man standing every single night, or at least every weekend. Little do they know that if they take their Flagyl with alcohol, they’ll regret it when they’re blowing chunks. Or, if they combine alcohol with other sleep-inducing medications, they could end up killing themselves if they try to drive.
3. Fib: “I’m picking this up for my grandpa.”
Reality: This patient is probably the person picking up the prescription, and the Viagra is most likely for him. No worries, though, because the pharmacist couldn’t care less. Besides, there’s nothing to be ashamed of and the pharmacist is a professional who’s capable of acting accordingly.

4. Fib: “Do you have any Sudafed? My girlfriend is sick.”
Reality: This patient is probably just looking for something to cook up in his basement lab.  

Alex Barker, PharmD
Alex Barker, PharmD
Alex Barker is the founder of The Happy PharmD, which helps pharmacists create an inspiring career, break free from the mundane "pill-flipping" life. He is a Full-time Pharmacist, Media Company founder, franchise owner, Business Coach, Speaker, and Author. He's also the Founder of Pharmacy School HQ, which helps students get into pharmacy school and become residents.