Disgruntled Patients and Professional Choices


I've spent my share of anxious hours waiting for trouble after a threat from a patient. It is usually a drug-seeker.

A few hours ago a male entered my pharmacy workplace and became very angry that his prescription was not ready and his insurance was not billed. I began to overhear him tag-teaming with another male patient against the pharmacy staff.

I heard him say, along with other witnesses, "I am going to shoot that b*&%h. I’m going out to the car and get my Glock. It is ridiculous that you have to wait an hour to get a prescription filled.”

His tag-team buddy “woo hooed” and replied, "Let me know the day you are going to come in and do it so I can make sure I don't come in here that day." He laughed out loud, “I’d like to see it, but I’m on parole.”

In the 1970s, I heard through the grapevine about a Mormon pharmacist in a small town on the California coast, between the peninsula where Vandenberg Air Force Base is located and San Simeon. The pharmacist didn’t hesitate even an instant. There was no thinking involved. It was all instinct. He saw the pistol in his disgruntled patient’s hand and plugged him between the eyes before the patient could even raise his gun hand.

I’ve spent my share of anxious hours waiting for trouble after a threat from a patient. It is usually a drug seeker. It is not a way to spend an afternoon. Looking up every time the door opens.

Nurses and doctors who can legally prescribe must face situations like this. Discontented patients who threaten to hurt you because of your professional decisions and choices. Don’t tell me it is just pharmacists who have to know how to balance on the edge. It would depress me.

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