confused pharmacy customer

11 Things You Should Never Say to Your Pharmacist

When you work with the general public every day, you hear a lot of crazy things. Some things you hear over and over and they start to get under your skin after a while. We get a lot of positives from our customers. We also get some laughs at their expense. It helps us stay sane to poke fun at them sometimes. Some pharmacists can’t do this and become bitter and adversarial. There is a high burnout rate in our industry. I try very hard each day to not let the weird things get to me, and instead I try to enjoy all of our customers and their eccentricities.
When you read the list below, know that I am only kidding. Kind of. You are probably guilty of one or more of these. The list might be funnier to those who work behind the counter, because everything will sound so familiar. Feel free to fire back at me with things a pharmacist shouldn’t say to a patient if you like. I would love to hear it.

1. “Why does it take so long? You just have to put a label on a box.”

What really happened to the dinosaurs? Why aren’t there any B batteries? Why doesn’t pizza come in a round box? Would the ocean be deeper if there were no sponges living in it? There are some answers we will just never know. I don’t want to spoil this one for you.

2. Loudly: “I NEED MY DRUGS!!” OR “YOU GOT ANY DRUGS!?!”

This might seem funny when you say it but, trust me, we have heard it before. You are better than that. Be original.

3. “My husband picked this up and it is wrong.”

Oh my, not the husband!! The husband running an errand is just about the dumbest animal on the planet. He is like a credit card that can drive. Husbands are not able to process information or make decisions. They don’t ask questions. They will pay for anything, no matter the cost. “Sir, your wife’s medication will cost $1,200 do you still want to buy it?” “Yes, she told me to come pick it up.”

Ladies, send your husbands with more information than they need. Take pictures if you need to. Don’t trust those guys to think. It’s not their fault. They were born this way. You can’t return medication to a pharmacy so we have to get it right the first time. You can’t imagine how many headaches husbands have caused me in my career.

Husbands: if you get in a situation where you are not sure what to do, step away from the counter and call home. If you can’t reach your wife, just leave the medication at the pharmacy until you receive a ruling. I know you don’t want to make another trip. Trust me on this one.

4. “Can you hurry? I have ice cream in my shopping cart.”

What? You do realize that you are still in the store, right?? There are reasons for me to give you priority. This isn’t one of them.

5. “I am on my way to the airport.”

Packing your toothbrush is something you do right before you leave on a trip. Going to the pharmacy doesn’t need to be. If you are going to run out of medicine while you are gone, just let us know ahead of time. We are happy to call your insurance to get you an early “vacation fill”.

6. “My pain medication was stolen, went down the drain, was left at the hotel…”

It never ceases to amaze me how often people are separated from their pain meds, muscle relaxers, or tranquilizers. Their diabetes or high blood pressure medications never seem to suffer from the same problems. I wonder why? Prepare to be met with skepticism if this actually does happen to you. We are not judging you. It’s just that we have heard so many stories.

7. “I know it is Saturday and I don’t have any refills but I ran out of my medicine. Can I get a few for the weekend?”

The answer to this question is usually yes, but it is met with a sarcastic look from me. Exactly when did you realize that you were about to run out of pills? It seems like some folks are surprised when their bottle is suddenly empty.

8. “I know you are about to close but can you fill this real quick?”

If you are coming straight from the doctor’s office or ER then, yes, no problem. Otherwise, have some respect for the staff and don’t show up within the last 15 minutes the store is open. They have had a tough day and are ready to get some 9:30pm dinner or see their kids before bedtime. Don’t ask them to stay open late if you can avoid it.

9. “Can you take a look at this?”

This may not apply to all pharmacists, but, for me, one of the barriers toward me being a physician is my inability to handle gross things. I don’t mind looking at a rash or a bug bite. I can also handle bruises, sprains, and strains. I do not want to look at things on inappropriate parts of your body. I do not want to look inside of your mouth. Most importantly, I DO NOT want to be the deciding factor on whether or not you should go get stitches. If there is a question, go get stitches. Nothing will send me running faster than when someone comes in with a bandage and starts removing it! Yikes! My knees are getting weak just thinking about it.

10. “When is my doctor going to call back?”

The scenario here is: you call me and ask for a refill. I tell you there are no refills and I have to call your doctor to ask for more. Then you ask me when you can pick the prescription up. I respond that I will fill it after receiving permission from the doctor. It could take 30 minutes. It could take 5 days. I don’t know what time you can come pick it up. Be assured that I will keep asking until I receive a response.

11. “I don’t have my insurance card. Can’t you just look it up?”

Believe it or not, I do not have access to some kind of magical database where I can look up everyone’s insurance information. If you want me to bill your insurance then you need to be able to give me the correct information. The same rule applies to discount cards or coupons. Here is a classic rant on this topic, from a fellow pharmacy blogger, that I found entertaining.

┬áThese are just a few examples of silly human behavior that we witness every day. None of them are all that offensive. It’s the frequency with which you hear them that drives you a little crazy. If you have more to add, please leave a comment so we can all get a laugh. If there are things we do that drive you crazy, please add those as well. I look forward to hearing your responses.
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8 thoughts on “11 Things You Should Never Say to Your Pharmacist”

  1. I only work ONE day a week and hear these EVERY time I work. Statistics are amazing! I love it Brady, keep it up:)

  2. Don’t come to the counter or drive thru on your phone… finish the call then approach. I don’t have time to wait for you (see #1) and I don’t want to share your information or the next patient’s information with the world.

  3. You forgot the ever-present, “Every single time you people…” give me too few, give me too many, give me the blue ones when I want the white ones, charge me too much (even though it’s been the same copay for 8 months), etc, etc…

  4. only 1 comment: you could do with some cultural competency training. NOT ALL HUSBANDS HAVE WIVES and NOT ALL WIVES HAVE HUSBANDS.
    *WAKE UP* same sex marriage is the LAW OF THE LAND!!!

    1. Ok this gave me a good laugh today picturing what a conversation in a 2 husband household would sound like.

      Husband 1: Did you pick up my prescription?

      Husband 2: Yes, would you believe they told me it cost $525 or I could go home and print out a coupon that would reduce it to $10?

      H1: So you still got it, right?

      H2: Of course, I didn’t want to have to go back. We can use the coupon next time.

      H1: Good call. That’s what I would have done too!

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