Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Texting in the pharmacy

I looked at some of the search terms that were sending people to this blog recently and saw something that jumped out. Somebody had Googled pharmacist was texting. It was linking to the Born yesterday post, but it reminded me of something that happened recently.

As a pharmacist, I get medication-related questions all the time from friends and family. I don't mind it because I want my friends and family to use their medication correctly. Usually the questions come to my cell phone as a text message. My friends and family don't know my work schedule, heck I hardly know it these days. And they don't know my work number. Why should they? I can be reached by text.

By some weird thing with Verizon, I can receive texts anywhere in my pharmacy, but I can only use the voice features of the phone if it is on speaker, sitting between my computer terminal and the phone. And that only happens when the wind is blowing just right. Basically no voice coverage in the pharmacy and in the 15 feet surrounding it.

Back to the story. Several weeks ago I had a patient come to the pharmacy with an ER prescription for a C-IV. The ER physician had caved in to this person and ordered 10 doses so their three hour wait in the waiting room was worth it. My technician had given the patient a time that the prescription would be finished.

The patient was one of those who lingers a bit too close to the pharmacy. Made a few comments about the length of time that it was taking to fill the prescription. Now we are a busy pharmacy. Usual wait times are 25-30 minutes. The patient started complaining at about the third minute.

During this time, I received a text from one of my friends. She has a little girl who is two months younger than my daughter. Her daughter has an autoimmune disorder and is taking some anti-rejection medications. Over the last few days she has had splitting headaches and has been hitting herself on the head, trying to beat the headaches out. The neurologist has wanted to start her on topiramate, but my friend wants to be sure that the headaches aren't simply a side effect of one of the medications her daughter is already on before adding yet another medication.

Since the ER patient's prescription has not been brought to me for the final verification, I have been texting with her to get more info and try to get an answer. That's when the ER patient said something to the effect of if the pharmacist wasn't texting. The ER patient had a bit of a chip on their shoulder.

Now it takes a lot to get me mad. I understand that a lot of the people coming to the pharmacy are sick and don't feel well. They may have just come from the ER after waiting several hours and just want their medication so they can start to recover from whatever ails them. When you are a seeker who is griping about the wait time for your prescription (when it is still 15 minutes before we told you your prescription would be ready) and then make a comment like that, I tend to get angry a little bit quicker than usual.

A few minutes later the ER patient tried to look over the counter as I was taking some phone-in prescriptions to see what I was doing. That's when one of my techs told the ER patient to step back and that the prescription would be finished at the time we had stated. Somehow right after that, the technician who had the ER patient's order got tied up on the phone and wasn't able to complete the prescription until right before the promised time.

I verified the prescription and called the patient over to the counseling window. I informed the patient about the medication, then informed the patient that the texting I was doing was with the mother of a five year-old girl who has been in extreme pain for the last four days. That I was putting the health of a five year-old girl above that of an ER drug seeker. That I didn't appreciate the attitude, and a few other choice words. The ER seeker took a step back, tail between their legs.

Looking back, I probably could have handled the situation a little more professionally. But I don't regret my actions. If I have my BlackBerry out in the pharmacy and people are waiting on prescriptions, I am either checking one of the medication databases on my phone or answering a question. If you pop off and gripe about the pharmacist texting, I just may have to beat you.


The Nail Narc said...

I like the way you handled it. I'd have probably said nothing, fearing I'd loose it on the guy.

You know Rite Aid has a company policy, "no cell phones on sales floor". I don't know if thet applies to the pharmacy, but we don't even have internet access and our resources are dismal, especially for OTC, nutritional supplements, herbals, and natural products. A cell phone is a huge asset when you need an answer you can't find any where in the pharmacy.

The RPh said...

Where is the 'like' button for this? Wonderful!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I like the way you handled it. I also find it awesome that the prescription wasn't ready early (which happens a lot if you're patient). Maybe, just maybe the person will learn.

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Anonymous said...

Just found your blog. You obviously do not own the pharmacy you work in. You were totally out of line with your "ER" customer. The pathetic mother could call on the store's phone, like all your customers. Maybe you and she have something else going on. The point is that texting takes 3 times longer than real speech and it is distracting for another 10 minutes after you are finished. You are open for a law suit if you make a mistake on anyone's RX and you put all this out on the internet. If you were my RPh, I'd fire you or ask you to pay you're own liability.