Letters to Drug Topics: January 2013

February 14, 2013

Pharmacy techs speak out.

It cuts both ways

As a pharmacy technician, I fully respect and value the position that pharmacists have in medicine and freely ask my employer questions about subject matter that I cannot pretend to fully grasp.

While you are the experts and we technicians are merely the “extra hands” employed to serve the patient, we certainly shouldn’t be spoken of in terms as derisive as those used by Denise Lutz [“Nailed it,” Letters, October 2012].

It may be true that some technicians don’t realize that a patient with high blood pressure or diabetes (which wasn’t mentioned) can’t take OTC medications with decongestants, etc., but some of us do. In order to pass the PTCE I had to learn the side effects of many medications and how they acted in patients with certain disease states.

I know the pharmacist knows more than I ever will about pharmacy - and I know when to say, “I’m sorry; but I don’t know. Let me ask the pharmacist.” I never advise patients on any subject that requires professional judgment. That would be illegal, unethical, and unsafe.

The implication that we technicians are less concerned with caring for the patient than the pharmacist is, simply because he or she is more knowledgeable and licensed, is incredibly insulting. We care more than most of our patients will ever know. If we didn’t care, we wouldn’t work as hard as we do to provide service both quickly and accurately.

Technicians are often the link between patient and pharmacist when one is in a hurry and the other is overly busy. Which impels me to ask: If pharmacy technicians don’t know what questions to ask patients so that a pharmacist may better advise them, why isn’t the pharmacist teaching them to ask the right questions?

James R. Hays, CPhT

Monticello, GA

What he said

I greatly resent Denise Lutz’s remark that “the technician doesn’t realize that a person with high blood pressure can’t take a multi-symptom cold medicine with a decongestant or that a man with prostate problems should avoid antihistamines. They just want a quick answer.”

It’s unfortunate that Ms. Lutz has to group all technicians into the category of not knowing this, because we do! I have worked in a retail setting as well as a hospital setting for years, and not only am I aware of the hazards of OTC medications with certain medical conditions, I also am not looking for a “quick answer” from the pharmacist to hurry the customer along. We actually do care.

I have learned many things from the pharmacists that I have worked with, because they took the time to pass along helpful information that benefits everyone involved - and because they realize the value of having a well-informed technician by their side.

In the future, maybe Ms. Lutz could inform her technicians, instead of complaining about them.

Jen Perry, pharmacy technician

Bridgewater, Mass.

 

We want to hear from you

Printed and e-mailed letters should be brief and include the writer’s name, address, daytime phone number, and date of the issue you are referencing: Editor, Drug Topics, 24950 Country Club Blvd., Suite 200, North Olmsted, OH 44070-5351.
E-mail address: drugtopics@advanstar.com. Letters may be edited for length, style, content, and clarity at our discretion.