Gentle Reminder

      Sometimes you get a reminder why community pharmacy is rewarding work.  Today I had one of those little reminders in the middle of a long shift at work. 

      A new patient I’ll call Mr. X came into my pharmacy and handed me a new prescription.  He wanted to know what his prescription would cost and he had no prescription insurance. 

      I looked up the cash price and it was hundreds of dollars.  The patient couldn’t afford it so I offered to call the emergency department to see if the prescriber would consider switching the medication. 

      Mr. X agreed to go home and wait as I called the emergency department to ask about lower cost alternatives.  My call was transfered from a nurse to a social worker.  I told her the situation and asked about having the medication changed. 

      She told me she’d call the prescriber and see what she could do.  The social worker called back and said there really wasn’t an alternative that was appropriate in this instance but asked me how much the medication cost. 

      I told her the price and then asked if there was anything else that we could do for Mr. X.  She checked with another pharmacy who helped people that couldn’t afford their medications.  As it turns out, they could fill the prescription for this patient at no cost to him. 

     I faxed the prescription to the other pharmacy to have it filled there and then went back to work.  The social worker offered to call the patient to inform him what to do.  I had almost forgotten about Mr. X and what had happened when one of my technicians handed me a phone and said “It’s Mr. X.  He wants to thank you.” 

    “I just really wanted to thank you for what you did for me.”  Mr. X sounded relieved and very appreciative on the phone.  “I knew when I sat down in my car to leave the pharmacy that I’d be taken care of and that I’d get my medication.”  He then added a sincere thank you to me and that was the end of our phone conversation. 

      It’s funny how you can get so caught up in the tasks involved with doing the job of pharmacist that you don’t even realize the instances where you’ve made a difference in someone’s life.  This man was really thankful for what we did for him.  We had done something good and yet it was so easy to miss. 

      As for me, I had almost forgotten about what happened.  I was lost in a sea of other problems and prescriptions.  I hadn’t considered the fact that we really helped Mr. X.  I was already moving on to Problem Y.

      Retail pharmacy does have it’s challenges.  Sometimes you can wonder if this kind of work is something you should continue.   You can grow weary and tired as you struggle through a long day at the pharmacy. 

      But occasionally, you do get a gentle reminder why this job is rewarding.  Today, Mr. X took the time to call me back just to thank me.  His voice was cracking with emotions at the time.  It was one of those moments I desperately needed during a busy holiday week. 

      I’m thankful for that social worker who rose to the occasion and helped me.  I’m thankful for a patient who took the time to say thank you to me.  And most of all, I’m thankful for a gentle reminder that a tough job is still worth coming back to day after day.  And this reminder came during the holidays when I needed it most.

The Redheaded Pharmacist

1 Comment to “Gentle Reminder”

  1. By Pharmaciststeve, December 30, 2012 @ 11:02 pm

    this weekend.. I work LTC – I had a nurse call in a order for PO vancomycin.. and I asked her what they were treating… and don’t remember… but it was some sort of systemic infection… I asked the nurse.. the patient doesn’t have C-Dif? NOPE… I told her that if the MD wanted to do Vanco for a systemic infection that we had to go IV… shortly there after.. the MD called me… and THANKED ME… for watching his back. I have been temping in this LTCP for four + yrs and I think I can count on one hand with a few fingers missing the number of times that a MD …personally .. called back to thank me for catching one of their whopper mistakes. Of course, working in a LTCP… the patient nor the pt’s family ever hears about how I protected the pt from potential harm. It is almost like we are the invisible or transparent “healthcare professional”… of course when something doesn’t go the way that the LTC things it should or those rare occasions where things really go wrong… we wish that we were invisible… unfortunately… that is not the case…


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