The Lighter Side of Pharmacy


To thrive as a pharmacist during the holidays, a sense of humor can be essential.

In my blog description, I mentioned that “Piller of the Community” would contain the occasional pharmacy humor piece. Consider yourself warned.

As I explained in my entry to the Pharmacy Times essay contest last year, my customer service model was far from exemplary when I got out of school and for a few years after that. I was an angry young man. If I had Darth Vader's power to erase people with a thought—and his place in the galactic community to get away with it—I would have had a markedly decreased customer base.

I once had a lady ask me, “Are the drugs fresh?” As if pharmaceuticals were poultry.

“Ma'am,” I replied, “you will expire before these drugs will." Didn't get fired. True story.

I worked Thanksgiving this year, as I usually do in order to take Black Friday off. But that's not important right now. What is important is the voicemail oxycodone prescription, from a PA no less, that came in 30 minutes before closing time. It was a legit script, but tracking down the hardcopy script the Monday after a four-day weekend was not going to happen. I called the answering service.

In the meantime, the patient called in. I told him in no way would I be filling the oxycodone script. “Hydrocodone doesn't work for me,” he said. “I have three herniated discs. If you talk to the nurse, she'll explain it to you." Riiiiiiight! This was a brand new patient on a holiday. Apparently the girlfriend's parents made for a rough dinner. I'm not going to say he was a professional narcotic ingester, but I was suspicious.

The doctor's line picked up, and it was a very pleasant PA, who instantly negotiated to hydrocodone/apap 5/325. Victory is mine!

The patient came to the counter, and I said, “The PA agreed with my drug therapy, and hydrocodone is as good as it’s going to get. If it still hurts, take two.” The patient admitted defeat, took his toned-down afternoon delight with him, and said he would see the doctor on Monday. Ten minutes later, I was headed for a turkey dinner while big box retail employees prepared for an outrageous 8 PM opening.

Speaking of holiday patients, I have one in the family: my Mom. On Thanksgiving she told me that she was out of blood pressure medication and had no refills.

“So let me get this straight, Mom—you have no tablets or refills on a medication you will take for the rest of your life, over a holiday weekend, with no doctor in sight.”

“Yes,” was her reply.

“You might as well be from out of state while you are at it. You bring me shame for generations to come. I suppose you want me to pick it up for you.”

“Of course.”

“Fine, but I'm telling the staff what a horrible patient you are.”

“They're used to it,” she stated matter-of-factly.

Shake my head and facepalm. Like I said, shame for generations.

I have far more than this, but a key rule of comedy is to never give it all away. Thank you, you've been great. Remember to try your bartender, and tip your veal. Peace.

Jay Sochoka, BSPharm, RPh, CIP, is not quitting his day job anytime soon.

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