Pharmacists Get the Leftovers

Patients find themselves out in their cars with a handful of prescriptions and unanswered questions. And where do they go? To the pharmacist.

I am blessed (or cursed) with an eidetic memory. I can remember details from long ago with startling accuracy. I remember the name of my friend’s date and what he was drinking when we double-dated at The Swallows nightclub on New Years Eve in 1965. I can remember visits to the doctor’s office in the 1940s, when I was a child. There was a circular staircase to his second floor office. The chairs in his waiting room were hard, straight-backs. I can recall the aldehyde aroma in the air and I can clearly remember that I always felt terrific by the time I got to the top of the stairs. The doctor was a Wonder Man. I didn’t even have to see him and I was cured.

That is a picture of me around seven years-old. I’ll give you a picture of the quintessential patient who is fifty-seven years-old. They think that the physicin is a Wonder Man/Woman too. It doesn’t matter what drug you prescribe, they are likely to feel better just because they saw you. But, they are fifty years more sophisticated that a seven year old and they often have questions.

The problem is that you often do not have the time and the patient gets stonewalled. They might be persistent and try to get their answers from your professional staff and, chances are, they will be stonewalled again. They find themselves out in their cars with a handful of prescriptions and unanswered questions. And where do they go? To the pharmacist. Many of them come into the drug store, ask to speak with the pharmacist, and proceed to want answers to every question that you did not have the time to answer. Remember, patients are intimidated by you. They will not persevere when they are blown off by you. The pharmacist is accessible, usually agreeable and, right now, still free.

This has been a daily occurrence in my life since 1965. The worst example was when a patient came to me and asked what Leukeran was for. I told her. She had to sit down. Her husband told me I was wrong. He insisted that Leukeran was an anemia drug. The prescriber made a bad judgment call. He thought it was better for her and her family if he kept it a secret for a little while.

The pharmacist is at the bottom of the funnel. We get your leftovers.