Wednesday, May 19, 2010


The weekend at the pharmacy. The prescription side of the business usually revolves around birth control pills and ER scripts. An occasional hospital discharge order for that once-a-year medication that you just sent back as outdated. Usually there's not a whole lot of excitement behind the counter.

But in front of the counter it's a different ballgame. People are coming in left and right looking for an over the counter item to fix them. Doesn't matter if it can be treated with medication, the people are wanting a pill or syrup that will cure their ailment.

So a better portion of my weekends are spent consulting on OTC medications. Most the time I can find something to help out. There are times when I have to tell the people that a product doesn't exist to treat their symptoms. Other times I tell them to call their physician or go to either the urgent care center or the emergency department, based on the severity of their situation. Basically the pharmacy serves as a triage location during the weekend. It's a role pharmacists are used to playing since we are the most accessible members of the health care team.

This past weekend I got to see how it works for another component of the health care team, at least partially. One of my daughter's friends had a birthday party on Sunday. I wasn't sure if I was going to go, but the weather wasn't nice enough to go golfing with my boys so we showed up at the party a little late.

When I arrived, all of the men were sitting out on the front porch consuming some adult beverages. It just so happened that all of them are physicians in the area. One is an ENT, another an OB/GYN, and the third is an ER doc.

We didn't talk work at all. The host had recently built his house and all of us were giving our input as to how he should landscape the gigantic hill in front of his house and where he should locate his vineyard.

After moving inside for cake and ice cream, we went to the backyard to play wiffle ball with the kids. That's when OB/GYN dad's phone rang.

It was a young lady, pregnant in her first trimester, freaking out over some spotting. After fifteen minutes on the phone attempting to reassure her, OB/GYN dad told her that she could always go to the ER to be evaluated. That's when a wiffle ball came flying from ER dad towards OB/GYN dad.

"Why the hell did you tell her that?" ER dad yelled. "All you are going to do is occupy one of our beds for three hours when there's nothing we can do."

"I know," said OB/GYN, "but she's not listening to me. If she sits in a bed for a few hours, she will at least feel better until she comes into the office tomorrow."

OB/GYN dad had a few more calls from patients freaking out about nothing. That led to a discussion of the how patients expect to have all of their problems fixed, even things that don't have a fix. We shared stories of some of the more interesting calls that we have received and patients that we have dealt with.

I thought I had the upper hand because I can always refer the patient to their primary care provider or the ER. OB/GYN dad thought he was in control because he can refer the patient to the ER. ER dad said he could always get back at OB/GYN because he could claim lack of expertise for the patient's specific gynecological issue and call OB/GYN back to the ER for an expert consult.

After a few laughs I realized that in the end, I'm the one getting the shaft.

After my referring the patient to the doctors, they let the patient sit and stew in the emergency department for hours and hours. Releasing them 30 minutes before the pharmacy closes on Saturday.

Which makes my last 10 minutes at the pharmacy not a lot of fun.


Next birthday party is in three weeks. Looking forward to it.


pharmacy chick said...


Metacinman said...

OUTSTANDING. i always figured they were doing that on purpose. goes to show even those guys have a sense of humor.