Friday, September 19, 2008


A couple of days ago I encountered a woman who caused me to think for the thousandth time the value of being a pharmacist. I realized once more that my ability to maneuver through the jungle of third party system was valued more than my ability to help the patients with drug knowledge.

All prescription filling is stopped when the insurance is not working. We may just lack the right codes for the hundreds of companies with unique codes which are being changed too frequently as one company is bought by another leaving the patient and the providers in a mangle of confusion.

As we were trying to fill two prescriptions for this woman's husband (whom I will call Bill), the insurance just would not accept all the information on the card for Bill. She was adamant that all her own prescriptions were paid for and it must be our fault that Bill's medicine were not being paid. After about fifteen minutes she was livid. I could see her irritation escalating to anger in her face. I asked my technician to tell her of the insurance denial..I guess I was too chicken to be yelled at. She demanded for the prescription papers and stormed out.

About an hour later a Walgreen pharmacist called me. He was not able to get her insurance to work for Bill and said that he wished we would not have sent her to them. Later a technician from Walgreen's (Sara) called my technician. Sara was so afraid...she was never treated so badly and she wanted to see how we fared. The woman told the Walgreen crew that we were more than incompetent, stupid and called us many more names. By the time the woman left Walgreen it seemed that she was even angrier. But she did learn that insurance covered her medicine but did not cover her husband's medicine.

I thought of our young people going to school for six years to be treated like this. What high ideals would young graduates have, to be smashed to the ground by such incidences which are all too common. I remember myself being deflated. I worked in hospitals soon after graduation. I did not have third party issues. It was before computer age. We filled little boxes all day. We wrote patient name, room number, drug name, and other pertinent informations. After we filled these little boxes someone else checked it to make sure right drug was going to right persons. It seemed like what I was doing was meaningless. Did I go through so much studying to be doing this? Where is my ability to be active in patient therapy?

Nurses often called us being very upset that medicine did not come up soon enough. Sometimes we were at the end of nurses' and doctors' anger making me feel like we were the dog that got kicked (dad comes home upset, yells at mom who yells at the kids then kids kick the dog.) If we do catch a doctor's mistakes with drugs, we had to be careful. If he was a vain doctor, you have to be able to receive his anger for touching his pride. One time I caught a serious mistake. I informed a doctor that this was a wrong drug with similar name. He was adamant that he knew what he was doing. He did not change the medicine for a whole twenty four hours then he changed to a correct drug. At least I was not yelled at.

Yet outside of work place there would be such respect for pharmacists. I often wondered of the discrepancy. I would often tell Tom that my work is not much different than the kids who serve hambergers at McDonalds. At least they are not chewed out for some third party not paying for their hambergers and fries.