on edge

September 24, 2007 at 1:33 pm 3 comments

Okay, probably the combination of the following facts has really got my stomach in a twist this morning.  

(1)              I’ve had too much coffee

(2)              my 4 year old is now officially scheduled for dental work in the hospital on Thursday of next week, and

(3)              I just reported a completely endearing and precious senior citizen pharmacy worker who is obviously suffering from the beginnings of dementia to the pharmacist for whom she works. 

Yes, (go figure), I’m more than a little on edge today.

You may or may not recall that our preschooler, Maggie, has a mouth full of cavities. We’ve been waiting for pre-approval from dental insurance for the work to be done outpatient in the hospital. The procedure is finally on the calendar, and it’s for October 4thnext week.  I’ve known of the date for a whopping thirty minutes and already I’d like to go lie in the fetal position in the corner of a dark room and just rock back and forth.  Maggie has already been under anesthesia once to have a cyst removed when she was two. But, the idea of anesthesia never bides well with me.  And, by the way, we are not discussing with Maggie the fact that this will be done in the hospital because we do not want her to have any anxiety over the procedure. So, shhhhhhhhhh.

And, then there’s the whole pharmacy thing. All right, y’all– I’ve only recently begun using this particular pharmacy. I’ve only had a prescription filled there twice. But, I’ve been in there three times. All three times I was greeted and “helped” by a positively lovely older lady. I’d estimate her to be in her late seventies.  She’s so friendly and courteous! This particular lady definitely has more southern belle hospitality and charm in her nature than most can muster up. But, y’all, the first time I was in there, I got home and took my medicine the next morning only to discover that the prescription had been filled in my husband’s name instead of mine. Okay, I guess that could have happened to anyone, I thought.  I called the pharmacy, and they asked that I come back in. And, they made the switch for me, reissuing the prescription in my own name. The same woman who rang me up the day before rang me up that next day, too. She did not recognize me at all. And, she apologized for “whoever made this mistake”.  (I was thinking, don’t I look at least a little bit familiar?)  But, I understand, she probably sees tons of people at that pharmacy counter every day. I cannot expect her to remember me, right? Additionally, I should say that when I arrived to let someone fix her mistake from the day before, I stood in line waiting while she apologized to another customer for some other mess up she’d made on their order.  

So, yesterday I filled my prescription using the automatic Rx line. And, I picked it up this morning. Same woman was there to assist me today. And, she was staring dumbfounded at the cash register. It wasn’t “doing right”, she said. The lady pharmacist casually came over to assist her because I was standing there for so long with the woman staring confused at the register and not saying anything to me in the meantime. They discussed the register display “not being right”. Then the pharmacist returned to her post and the cashier began to ring my order up. The credit card signing pad asked for my signature. But, I had not yet swiped my card. I guess this was a new process for them? Fine. I’ll accept that.  Anyhow, the cashier called a pharmacy technician over (who’s employee order she had obviously rung up right before I arrived) at that point, and said, “Hun, I don’t think you signed for your transaction a few minutes ago. THAT must be what’s up with this register. We didn’t complete the last order!”  She looked satisfied with that concept. 

The girl looked at the register. Then, with a confused look, she shot me an apologetic look with just a trace of embarrassment (or maybe that was alarm?), and then said, “Well, no ma’am. I believe I’ve already signed,” she said in a chipper voice. Then she looked at me and said, “Have you swiped your card yet?” To which I replied, “No ma’am.” Then the pharmacy tech looked more confused and apologetic.

“Ohhhhh, okay. Ohhhhh, uhh, that’s right,” stammered the older cashier. “Well, never mind! I don’t know what I was thinking! I guess I should have just stayed home today! Ha!” 

I felt horrible about it, but I considered all I’d witnessed and decided I couldn’t let it go anymore. I’m quite sure that there is some level of dementia with which that sweet lady is dealing.  So, I knew what I had to do.  I thought about leaving and then calling in and talking to the pharmacist over the phone. But, I did not want my call to be discounted. I wanted her to relate this situation to what she’d personally seen with her own eyes today, and then let her know that I had seen other evidence of the same thing on two previous visits over the past two months.  Now y’all…seeing as how I’ve seen as much as I have in three consecutive visits over an eight week period, just imagine what they are witnessing on a daily basis and choosing to overlook because she’s such a charming, grandmotherly figure, I suppose? I mean, she’s such a love, I’m sure. But, CLEARLY she does not need to be handing people their medicines (or perhaps their spouses medicines labeled with the wrong name?)  Think of the many different kinds of medicines that are dispensed there daily. Somebody could die over someone’s mishaps there, no matter who the employee is. But, all I know is, that I could not fail to bring these incidents to the attention of management. I’m sure they KNOW. I don’t see how they can not have realized this. But, just in case no other client has brought this up, that sweet little lady is definitely a public threat, and as cruel as it may sound, an accident waiting to happen…And at who’s expense? Will it cost someone their life?

As the cashier in question helped  her next customer, I discreetly walked down to the other end of the pharmacy counter and spoke quietly with the lady pharmacist who herself had tried to assist her obvioulsy frazzled and confused employee earlier. (I was neither in view nor in earshot of the employee about whom I needed to discuss.) The pharmacist greeted me with a smile and a hello. 

“Hello,” I said in a hushed voice. “She is precious. Precious,” I said, indicating with my eyes and a subtle nod to the counter attendant to the far right.

“Ohhhh, YES, she is… Thank you,” she said with a pleasant smile.

“But,” I continued, “you really need to watch her.”

“Ma’am?” she asked, quietly.

 “You need to watch her,” I repeated with quiet confidence. “I have personally experienced several mishaps with her over the past several weeks. You r-e-a-l-l-y need to keep a close watch.”

The pharmacist nodded a hopelessly sad, but understanding nod, and said, “Okay. Thank you, ma’am.” We smiled our sympathetic goodbyes, and I left.  

Obviously, I will not be back, no matter what they choose to do. I will be moving that prescription back to our regular pharmacy near the house. I only filled it there the first time because I hadn’t had time to do it after work, and needed to fill my Rx. So, I chose a reputable pharmacy near my work. I feel very sad about the whole set of circumstances. But, I have seen several family members suffer with neurological issues in their senior years.  And, with pharmacies, we tend to just trust them and go our merry way.  What do we know about prescription medicine except that the doctor says we need it, and we trust the pharmacy to dispense it properly? We just take the stuff home and swallow it in accordance to whatever schedule they direct. So, someone who gets confused that easily and that often does not need to be working that particular job.  It’s not that she cannot work somewhere. She just doesn’t have any business dispensing prescriptions. Have y’all seen “It’s A Wonderful Life”? Remember the scene with the elderly pharmacist? ‘Nuff said.

Entry filed under: emotional episodes.

friday wrap up you’ve gotta see this

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Steph  |  September 26, 2007 at 6:23 am

    By the way, about Maggie — Apparently I was in the hospital a couple of times when I was fairly young and mostly, the memories that I retain include all the attention I received…In the hospital, all these smart lookin’ doctors and pretty pastel nurses would come and check on me and talk to me and baby me and I remember getting popsicles, too…I wanted chocolate, but sometimes all they had was orange, even cherry would have been better than orange, grape? no grape either? fine, just give me the orange, but try to get those chocolate ones next time…Oh, back to the point — People would come by the house to check on me and would ask how I was feeling and I just thought they were overly friendly…’I felt just fine, why does everybody keep asking me that?’
    So, NO WORRIES. Maggie will enjoy the attention and she won’t know anything out of the ordinary is happening as long as ya’ll won’t let on that being in the hospital is usually the result of unanticipated conditions related to medical necessity.


  • 2. Steph  |  September 26, 2007 at 5:54 am

    I agree with Regina, you did the right thing. And it says alot that, in the beginning, you were open to the fact that we all make mistakes instead of just diving head first into a fit of rage b/c that seemingly senile pharmacy tech, who has no business handling the general public’s medications, has not only labeled your Rx incorrectly, but in the process, most likely committed insurance fraud by filing the insurance under a different name…no wonder I’m always under so much stress, I freak out over unforeseen outcomes instead of resting in the assurance that everyone has been given the privilege of making mistakes, especially me! Hmmm, this blog is a great outlet…thanks for letting discover these little tidbits about myself. (Although, it shouldn’t be all about me, huh? I’ll work through that one on another day.)


  • 3. Regina  |  September 25, 2007 at 9:15 am

    You did the right thing. It’s never easy to do something like that, but you may very well have saved someone from taking the wrong medicine or worse, even from dying. We have a tendency to think that because someone is “precious” that we should just ignore any behavior that is not appropriate because we don’t want to hurt feelings. But the reality is that you are doing that person a favor. I can’t imagine that this sweet lady would intentionally hurt someone but I also am sure that she would be devastated if something she did resulted in someone else being harmed.

    Rest assured, you did what needed to be done…


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