Viewpoint: Conduct becoming a pharmacy patient

June 2, 2003

A list of 26 patient practices that drive pharmacists crazy.

Editor's note: "A pharmacist's tongue-in-cheek guide to patient etiquette," published in our Sept. 17, 2001, issue, was such a hit with our readers that the author has prepared the following new list for your reading pleasure.

1. Every time you get a prescription filled, hand over your Medicare card and say, "I thought this covered medicine."

2. The best way to get the pharmacist's attention is to tap, tap, tap your bottle on the counter. This will make him or her want to serve you.

3. Here is a personal favorite: Get your prescription filled at one pharmacy, but then call the pharmacist at another store for information. Then to make the pharmacist feel good, say, "I filled it there, but I am asking you because the other place was too busy."

4. Call the pharmacy and say that you're holding a new prescription in your hand and ask the pharmacist whether you can have it filled there. Then read it to the R.Ph. like this: "A five and two squiggly lines and a slash over a dot."

5. Come to the pharmacy and when the R.Ph. says the doctor has to be called for a new prescription, say you have a new one at home and give the pharmacist a goofy look.

6. Call your local pharmacist with all your mail-order questions because he or she gets a fee from the mail-order pharmacy for each query answered.

7. Whenever you have a nondrug problem, say, a billing or an insurance question, be sure to go to the pharmacy as soon as it opens (Mondays are best) because that's when the R.Ph. has time to deal with those types of problems.

8. If the pharmacist asks you which doctor you saw, say, "Isn't it on the prescription?" The pharmacist can read the doctor's name. It's just a little quiz to see whether you know who your doctor is.

9. Tell the pharmacist that you looked everywhere for a product and this pharmacy was the only one that had it. The pharmacist will thank you for shopping his store last.

10. When you're told the doctor has to call back to refill your Rx, go home and call the pharmacy every 15 minutes to ask if the doctor has called yet.

11. Call your pharmacist five minutes before closing time, say you forgot to get your Rx, and ask him or her to wait. R.Ph.s have no other life, so hanging around an extra 20 minutes after work is OK.

12. Don't bother to get new Rxs when you visit your doctor. Just tell your R.Ph. that you were just at the doctor's. That usually is all the pharmacist needs to hear.

13. When going on vacation, wait until the morning you leave to arrange an early fill of your Rx. This will create a little excitement for the pharmacy staff in trying to accommodate you.

14. When your co-pay has changed, act completely dumbfounded and blame the pharmacist. The information your insurance company sends you is not to be read by you under penalty of law.

15. When you order your pills at the counter, try to keep a running dialogue with the pharmacist. This distraction is good for building his or her multitasking skills.

16. When you hear of the latest infomercial product, go immediately to your pharmacy and ask whether they have it. But give only the first letter or a "sounds like" description of it.

17. When paying your co-pay, always ask the staff what the regular price of the prescription is, just for fun. They will enjoy looking that up for you.

18. Ask for the brand name after your Rx was filled with a generic, then run generics into the ground in front of all present. The R.Ph. knows generics are crap, but your point of view is nice validation.

19. Posted hours are for suckers. Always show up 15 minutes early or five minutes late. Pharmacy staff have no life and enjoy starting early or hanging around for you.

20. If you happen to see the pharmacist having some lunch, be sure to make some witty remark about eating on the job.

21. Ask the R.Ph. what is the best thing for a cold. There is only one best thing, and this will get you through all the other products without a hassle.

22. Ask the pharmacist for a recommendation. Then say your neighbor took this other product and buy it over the pharmacist's recommendation.

23. Please use nicknames whenever possible.

24. Order products the pharmacy doesn't carry, then never pick them up. This will help build the inventory where you shop.

25. If the pharmacist is talking to a patient and you overhear them, make sure to chime in your opinion, especially if it's contrary to the pharmacist's advice. The patient deserves your point of view.

26. Murphy's Law on waiting: A patient will stare at you for 20 minutes while you fill his or her 10 prescriptions, but wander off five seconds before you are done.

The author is a community pharmacist in Minnesota. His e-mail address is: jon@jonsdrug.com.