Monday, June 18, 2007

Note to Pharmacists

Stop pressing my buttons! It's my question, I'll answer it!

The last three prescriptions I filled I encountered the same complete lack of customer service that is really beginning to peeve me off.

During checkout, here in NYC at least, after the money has changed hands the little screen pops up a screen that allows you to respond "No I do not need advice" or "Yes I received advice on my medication" or something to that effect.

Each of the last three times, the person handling the transaction leaned over and clicked the "no I don't need advice" button for me.


The first time was an independent pharmacy where I was getting my son's first ever dose of penicillin and yes, actually, I had some questions. I was worried about an allergic reaction as this would be the first time to find out, and I wanted to know the signs to look for if things were going wrong. "Instructions are in the bag" I was told. This was after the lady had clicked the "no I don't need advice" on the little touchscreen I put my PIN into.

The second time was at a Rite-Aid. I picked up some antibiotics for the boy but in fact had no questions so I was only mildly annoyed when the chap reached over the counter and hit the "no advice needed" button.

An hour later I was back to pick up my Chantix prescription for which I did indeed have questions and was subjected to (a) the checkout process completing before I was told they couldn't fill the whole three month prescription and (b) hitting the "no advice" button for again!

Drives me mad. Is this limited to New York or does anyone else experience this? Maybe it's just my face, maybe I look like someone who doesn't want to be helped.


RJS said...

I've not seen these buttons about needing to talk to the pharmacist or not, but it sounds more efficient than the system that we have, which is signing one column if you have questions, and the other column if you do not.

However buttons are more difficult to cope with for some demographics.

It's to comply with OBRA'90 law, and it's really rather silly. I would hope that if people have questions, they will ask them, and not need to be asked if they have them. I guess, though, some people are afraid to ask, and need to be prompted. Sort of like how the big-mouths in grammar school aren't afraid to answer questions, but in order to get a quieter person to respond, you must prompt them.

Something like that.

In any case, hitting this button does not mean you have "waived your right" to ask the pharmacist your questions and are now SOL. It's merely to comply with OBRA'90 law. You can ask whatever, whenever, wherever you want.

In terms of the bad behavior you've experienced... well there's no excuse for that, and I hope to address it in a blog post in the near future, as it's something I've been meaning to talk about for a little while. It happens disturbingly often.

Anonymous said...

Here's some advice.

First of all, you have a mouth. Use it. Do you need to press the button to request information? No. You open your mouth and ask the question.


If you weren't smoking in the first place your kid wouldn't need all the medication for lung infections in the first place.

Next time you visit the doctor because junior has another lung infection let the doc know that you smoke and they will no longer need to prescribe antibiotics. They will just inform you that your smoking caused chronic bronchitis in your child.

Little late for the Chantix. You should have quit when you first had the kid.

Jaz said...

Anonymous: it's hard to feel empowered when the professional, degreed, licensed specialist is standing on a raised floor three feet over you and pressing the "please don't bother me I'm busy" button.

That notwithstanding, I did ask. I used my mouth, and I was told to call the doctor. It was made very clear the transaction was over.

And thanks for the parenting advice. It was an ear infection he picked up swimming. I haven't smoked in the house since he was born.

And thanks for the support with me quitting smoking. Very inspiring.

RJS: Thanks for your comments. It's part of those touchscreen payment modules you can use to swipe your card and digitally sign the receipt, in pharmacies - in NYC at least - they mostly use the same device to offer cash back from the purchase and to check off whether or not you need advice.

I agree it's not a waiver of my right to ask questions, but as I wrote above, it's disconcerting and certainly not empowering. Sort of a "this conversation is over" Jedi mind trick, if you will.

Anonymous said...

Some people are so rude! Why take low blows at the boy? Sheesh. Is Chantix some sort of quitting smoking helper? Good for you. Hope it works.

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