Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ego Check, Pharmacy Dept

I just have to tell you this story. I debated, because I don’t want this to be a place to vent frustrations, rather I want it to be a documentation of your life and our memories together. But this is a prime example of the type of people we often have to deal with, and it makes me crazy.

I picked up your cholesterol medication from a Walgreens on Dairy Ashford and Memorial this afternoon. Not super far, but could definitely be closer. Especially during traffic when I have to cross I10. When I arrived home, I unloaded you kids, got everyone situated, and then took the bottle out of the bag to place in the fridge. I didn’t even lay my eyes on it before I knew that it wasn’t right—the feel was completely wrong. So I examined it more closely, poured some into a med cup and it was immediately obvious to me that the actual medication wasn’t added to the cherry aqueous solution. They basically just gave me syrup.

Irritated (at them and myself—I know better than to leave the pharmacy without checking) I called Walgreens, was placed on hold, and then explained the situation. I was transferred to the compound pharmacist who, without listening to what I had to say, insisted it was fine. Because he did it himself. As if that should convince me my senses are wrong, and it does in fact look, feel, and smell correct. Round and round we go. I tell him what I have: very pink, thin, clear fluid; how it should look: white, thick, opaque. He says he remembered measuring it out. I tell him that after almost 3 years of giving you cholesterol, I am very familiar with its characteristics and this is not right. He tells me that he just ground it so thin I can’t see it. I tell him I won’t give it to you, it might as well be sugar water. Finally he agrees, “if it makes me feel more comfortable” I can come up there and watch him measure it out as he does it again. I am on my way.

So I pack you two back up and leave during 5 o’clock traffic. You vomit on a huge stretch of road with no shoulder to pull off onto. Jesus protected your airway during that time, but I am getting crankier by the minute. This guy better fly right when I get there.

I stand in line for several minutes before speaking with anyone behind the counter. I am asked to step aside to the consultation window, where I wait for another 5 minutes or so to speak with the pharmacist. I again tell him I am certain there is no medication, or if there is it is the wrong medication. I (from experience) never throw out a bottle of meds until I get a new one. So I brought last month’s bottle with me so that he could see from the remnants the difference in appearance. I hand the bottles over and he just holds them. He explains the process (of which I am fully aware) and tries to convince me that he did it so well that I can’t see the med. That he somehow managed to take the stick and the grit out of CHOLESTEROL. I am totally not buying. Why then wasn’t able to accomplish that feat last month? He agrees to remake it but has yet to crack open the bottles I brought him. So I reach over taking the bottles back and start opening the lids and ask him for cups to pour them into. He just sort of stands there and I ask him point blank, “Are you going to look at these or do you not even care?” His response?

“No. Not really.”

Are you kidding me? Seriously? I have no words. Literally, my brain went into shock and I don’t even know what I said. He scooped up my bottles and walked off so fast that so I might not have even had a chance to say anything. Which was wise, because any longer to process, I might have leaped over that counter and clobbered him.

I sit in the waiting area, stewing. Griping to Aunt Paula and Daddy via text. And in that time I decide that I am never coming back to this Walgreens…or any other for that matter. I have always hated the one by our house. The customer service is abhorrent. I also resolve to speak with the manager (but at a later date because I hate confrontation and don’t want him to call over the pharmacist while I’m there). And that this guy needs a new career. There are certain jobs that you have to be 100% right every single time. Mixing prescriptions is one of those jobs. Your cholesterol doesn’t mean life or death in the short term. But other people’s scripts do. If he wasn’t sure the medication was added, the action seems obvious to me. Throw it out and start over.

But if a pharmacist does make a mistake, they HAVE to be humble enough to realize it, apologize, and make it right. I can’t let someone mix your medication who thinks that a mistake is beneath them. How will he learn? If he had just taken the time to compare the two bottles, he would not have been able to deny something was amiss. I don’t expect him to know what cholesterol should look like. He has only done this 3 times. But I do expect him to trust that I know how it should look. Or at least see it for himself. He was much too busy to extend me a moment’s courtesy for even that.

After about 15 minutes he brings out the components so I can watch him measure them. Really, this is unnecessary. I just need him to remake it, and include the cholesterol. He tells me he just won’t grind it as fine this time, so that it looks more like what I am used to. I tell him, “No. Please. Try to make it look the same. I would love that.” He understands this is a test. If it looks like it did before, I will know I was wrong. If it doesn’t, we will know he sold me a bottle of cherry aqueous solution with a cholesterol label. He warns me it will take 45 minutes, and I tell him I’ll wait.

And wait. And wait some more apparently. Liam has missed dinner, bedtime has come and gone, and he is quickly losing patience. You are overdue to eat also, but I suppose that will have to be postponed as well. I let Liam cause a little mayhem in the toy aisle. Just a little. I buy him passies and snacks and that gives us a couple moments of peace. We are settling in because I figure this guy eventually has to admit he was wrong, and I am determined to out-wait him.

After two hours of trying to grind the cholesterol into oblivion, the pharmacist shows me the finished product. I tell him that is exactly right, just what I initially expected. He says, “Well, I still have a little more of the syrup, if I pour it in, it will be more pink”. So I ask him to pour the syrup in a clear cup by itself so I can see it. And when he does, it looks exactly like what I was sent home with originally. I pull out my iPhone to show him the picture I had taken—and then watch as the realization dawns on him. He throws his head back a bit, almost as if slapped and mouths the word, “oh”. Still, his ego stays intact and he doesn’t deem an apology necessary. All he did was repeat, “If I put this in it will be pinker.” I told him to go ahead. I don’t care what color it is as long as the is cholesterol included.

All that man had to do from the start was say, “I’m sorry, I’ll remake it, come pick it up in a few hours.” Instead I had to take three hours out of my already busy evening to babysit him. At this point, I have your medication and a lot of the fight has drained from me. But I am still resolute to start looking for another pharmacy that is willing and able to make your cholesterol—even if only for principle. It will be another time consuming and near impossible task. Still, I can’t trust this pharmacy, so I have no choice. And I still feel like I should speak to the manager because a pharmacist with that attitude is dangerous. I will add it to my never ending to-do list.

Audrey, I wish I could say this is the first run in of this sort we have had with pharmacies. Of the five we have used, four make it clear they don’t care for their customers’ health or well being at all. We have had to wait ridiculous amounts of time to be told “come back later”, meds made wrong, in wrong quantities, and been given other customers’ meds altogether. There is the same lack of respect for customers or co-workers and zero pride in their work. Our neighborhood HEB is the only one that does a great job in both the medication they hand out and their customer service. Way to go HEB. I am going to beg them to make your cholesterol.

And pray that Mr. Ego takes a big dose humility.


Aunt Shelby said...

u have much more tolerance than me sista, i would have snapped as soon as he said "no. not really" and went after him like a crazy spider monkey. OHHHHHHHHH LORD JESUS HAVE MERCY ON HIS SOUL! or not.. :)

Anonymous said...

Amber, you definately need to make an official complaint against this guy and that Walgreens. Otherwise it goes undocumented and they get away with it. Maybe if there are enough complaints, someone will see a pattern and do something about it. And you are so right, a mistake like this could kill the next person he does it to.

Nancy said...

That was me, Nancy Yetter, I don't know why it says anonymous!

Laura Fallon said...

You are an amazing woman and an awesome mom! Getting it done, one battle at a time.

Kira said...

I am absolutely horrified at that pharmacist's behavior. I work with animals - and no matter how minor a mistake it may be, made by myself or even my staff I bend over backwards to apologize, make services free, etc. There's something called accountability when you are toying with someone - or some animal's health and this man needs a dose of reality - you are NOT allowed to do things like that with no consequences, and honesty is ALWAYS the best policy. I hope that pharmacist sends you a personal apology - he sure owes you one. - Kira

Laura Rahman said...

I know this is totally inconvenient for you, but we have been extremely happy with the Walgreens at One Fannin (right next to Woman's Hospital). They order things for us when we need them, and will even arrange for the meds to be delivered to my house when I can't get there to pick them up. But regardless, thank God you know what you are looking for and were able to get it straightened out!