Let pharmacists do their jobs

People's Pharmacy

March 25, 1997|By Joe Graedon and Dr. Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon and Dr. Teresa Graedon,SPECIAL TO THE SUN King Features Syndicate

No one would dream of interrupting a pilot as he brings a 757 in to land. Most people don't try to engage a bank teller in small talk as he counts their money. And if you call your doctor while she is doing surgery, her receptionist will take a message.

Distractions are dangerous. Recent research showed that using a mobile phone increases the risk of a car accident. But customers often think nothing of bothering the pharmacist while he is trying to fill a prescription.

According to pharmacists, distractions and increasing time pressures are leading causes of prescription errors. Working conditions have deteriorated dramatically in recent years. It is not unusual for pharmacists to work 12-hour shifts sometimes without breaks for meals or going to the bathroom.

Here are some helpful tips provided by caring pharmacists: Don't rush the pharmacist. Unless you must start your medicine immediately, drop your prescription off a day ahead to allow the pharmacist time to work and avoid waiting yourself.

If you need a refill, ask for it by the prescription number, to save time and reduce risk of error.

Don't let the nurse or receptionist call your prescription in from the doctor's office. Sound-alike drugs are easily confused over the phone.

Avoid asking the pharmacist trivial questions such as where to locate non-drug items.

Make sure the pharmacist has your insurance information before filling your prescription.

And when you call the drugstore, ask to speak to the pharmacist only when you have a drug-related question.

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist. Dr. Teresa Graedon is a medical anthropologist and nutrition expert.

Pub Date: 3/25/97

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