Monthly Archives: September 2011

Don’t ask me for advice

Something strange happened to me a few days ago. I was embroiled in a mini twitter scandal. I was sent a tweet by a lady asking what my views on Candida were as a pharmacist. I took her into the twitter consultation room and sent her a direct message.

Now I know it is not considered good practice to give advice outside the pharmacy and especially on a social networking site. But I thought there would be no harm done if I spoke to her in private. I asked her if she meant Candida Albicans and she said yes. I was asked if I believed it existed. I said yes it did and I was confused as to why she asked me that.

Her GP had told her it did not exist. This struck me as bizarre. Did her GP really say that? Did they believe it? I am assuming it was a male GP. Did the lady mishear? The lady did not strike me as being stupid. I said that I would ask around on twitter in case I had missed something.

Now I know I should have had confidence in my own abilities. I know it exists. However, there was a slight niggle in the back of my mind that I had missed some information. So I sent out a tweet asking if vaginal candidiasis still existed. I added that a friend’s GP claimed it did not and that this was a strange tweet.

Within a minute, I got a reply from a female GP who said as she owned a vagina [her words] and as a GP she could confirm it did. I thought that was pretty simple and the end of that. Alas, I was wrong. An hour later, I received a tweet from a lady saying that my friend was obviously a male and that she would not answer the question. Well I already had my answer so I just replied that my friend was a woman.

Then another lady tweeted me. ‘Did I really seriously doubt it? Did my pharmacy training say it did not exist? But because one person said it did not exist, I wondered about it’. I tried to explain myself via direct messages but she ignored me. She would be a bit worried if medical professionals relied on twitter to keep abreast of medical advances. I said that I did not mean to alarm anybody and she replied, ‘I don’t think any females were alarmed…maybe slightly annoyed?’

Wow! I said that she should be annoyed with the GP who said that it did not exist. She finally explained by direct message that she thought my friend was a male too and thought we were being sexist and juvenile.

This upset me. I was just trying to help someone. Looking back, I should never have sent that tweet. I should not have tried to give advice on here. I should have advised the lady to speak to her pharmacist or just confirm Candida’s existence and leave it at that. I definitely was not being sexist. Two women thought I was though. I do not like to argue on twitter or cause offence to anybody, but I had managed to do just that. I think their reaction was over the top though.

People need to get all the information before they comment, otherwise they end up looking stupid. A day later, I sent the original lady a direct message confirming what the GP on twitter had said and the resulting craziness. She was horrified. She apologised. She meant oral thrush…..


Locums deserve respect

Normally on a Saturday, I work in my own pharmacy. It gives me a chance to have a catch up as it’s generally quieter. This week, I was asked by the locum co-ordinator to work in a different branch. I had not worked at this branch for a couple of years, so I thought it would be nice to work there. Big mistake!!!

I should have known that it would be a bad day when I could not get my car out due to a brother/neighbour car sandwich.  I had to wake up my brother to move his car.
Then I thought that I would be late. Thankfully the roads were quiet.

The morning started well and the two staff seemed pleasant.  We did not do many items but it was all the problems in between that slowed everything down.  Firstly, patients came back for items that were in the mornings AAH order.  I looked through 12 AAH boxes to try to find a tub of Doublebase cream and then found it in the Alliance order!

Patient A brought in a prescription for Algesal cream and they were calling back. We did not have it in stock so I put it to one side for when Patient A came back.

Patient B came in for an owing from yesterday for Oestrogel. Unfortunately, it had not been ordered. Luckily, she was happy to wait until Monday.

The next prescription for Patient C made me chuckle:

They like peppermint but not for everything! A verbal instruction was not sufficient apparently.

Patient D collected a prescription but it was the wrong flavour of Paracetamol 6+ suspension. He does not like orange?!?!  So I had to change all 1200ml. In the middle
of this Patient E rang to speak to the pharmacist and I said that I would ring them back. Only had 600ml so I gave an owing note. There was also another prescription for Gabapentin that should have been here. I looked on the computer and said that the last one was done a week ago. She said that she had only ordered it a few days ago and we should have collected it. She would ring the surgery on Monday morning.

The waiting time had increased to 10 minutes and one patient walked out in disgust?!?!

I rang Patient E back and there was no answer!

Patient F came in for an emergency supply of her dad’s Dihydrocodeine tablets as he had forgotten to order them. I referred her to the emergency doctors who would be able to fax me a prescription.

Patient E rang back and had been prescribed some Zufal  [Branded generic Alfusozin] tablets. We could not get hold of them and he was not happy. He was going on holiday on
Wednesday. He kindly gave me the address of AAH pharmaceuticals in Leeds for me
to try on Monday [thanks!]. I explained that I would leave a note for the next pharmacist on Monday and that we would definitely ring him back on Monday. He would begrudgingly accept a different generic if we could not get Zufal [Script would need to be changed though].

Patient A came back. The prescription had disappeared?!?!? It was not where I had left it. We all searched everywhere for it. EVERYWHERE. It had vanished.

20 min wait for prescriptions……

I had to profusely apologise and say that we would ring the surgery on Monday to get another prescription. As soon as we get a replacement [hopefully!] the bleeding thing will probably turn up!

Patient F came back for the Dihydrocodeine fax. It had not arrived yet….

Patient G rang up and said that he was waiting for his Clopidogrel. It was due to be delivered on Mondays. I said that I would bring it on my way home at 1pm. He was 94 years old so I felt generous!

Patient H said that there was no Ramipril tablets on her Mum’s prescription from yesterday and wanted an emergency supply. I looked on the computer and which said that it had been labelled. I found out the prescription and it was on there. I asked her to confirm with her mum that she had definitely not had them. Not a lot I could apart from redispensing it.

Patient F came back again. Still no fax. She rang the emergency doctors again. They had got our fax number wrong!

Patient I needed an emergency supply of Amlodipine….

The Dihydrocodeine fax came. I was hoping that Patient F and Patient I did not talk to each other. I did not want to have to explain why one could have an emergency  supply and one could not.

The dispenser mentioned that the pharmacist who had worked two days ago had ended up ripping up a patient’s prescription after he had become abusive. I was too busy to ask questions about it!

I found the Gabapentin prescription that the Patient D had mentioned. It was a week old and had not been dispensed. Oh well!

These issues will be familiar to anyone that works in pharmacy. It is especially difficult for a locum as they have to hope that there are no unresolved issues from the previous day and that the right medicines have been ordered. They also have to hope that any notes that they leave get followed up.

Locums sometimes get a bad press [from me!]. I for one could not do it full-time. I like to know everything that is happening in my pharmacy. I have a newfound respect for locums.

I was driving home after the home delivery and my all-time favourite song ‘Wonderwall’ came on the Radio. It cheered me up. Then I got a phone call from my branch asking if I could pop in and sort out a couple of problems! AAAARRRRGGGHHH!!!