Saturday, 7 September 2013

Tales from the pharmacy

These are several stories that happened to me whilst working recently which I thought I’d share (any identifying details of the patients below have been changed!).

  • It was the middle of a busy shift when one of the healthcare counter staff came up to me and told me that there was a patient requesting to see me who was having an asthma attack. I went out to see her, and she was indeed having an asthma attack and at that point was really struggling to breathe. There are certain prescription medications that Pharmacists are allowed to give to patients in emergency situations without a prescription or the patient being known to the pharmacy, so I took the patient into the consultation room and gave her a salbutamol inhaler. After several puffs she started being able to breathe again, which I was very relieved about. I stayed with her to ensure she recovered fully, and after 5 minutes or so she’d recovered enough to be able to talk again. At that point she got pretty upset as I think the attack had given her a shock. I comforted her and stayed with her for a while until she felt ok to leave. She thanked me a lot and claimed that I’d saved her life (probably a slight exaggeration!), but it was nice to think that I’d made a difference in that women’s life that day.
  • On another occasion, 2 sisters came into the pharmacy I was working at, both with prescriptions for the morning after pill. I asked them if they knew how to take it, and as they didn’t seem to know much about it, I took them into the consultation room to counsel them on it. I said that I could talk to them separately, but they were happy to come in together. As part of the counselling I always check how long ago the unprotected sex was to ensure that the patient is still eligible to take it, and to advise them on approximately how effective it will be. When I asked the question to these sisters, one of them said the early hours of the previous day and the other one nodded in agreement. I didn’t probe further but I couldn’t help thinking about what on earth had occurred? Had they both just happened to have had unprotected sex with different men at the same time, or had it occurred in some big orgy?! I’m glad I did talk to them though as the doctor didn’t seem to have told them anything about how to take it (or else they’d forgotten everything the doctor had said), and hopefully they’ll have good outcomes from it.
  • Lastly, I was doing a medicines use review with a patient and talking to her about her medication. She had recently been prescribed a cream, so I asked her what she was using it for. It turned out that the patient is a naturist and was using the cream for a shaving rash “down below” from a recent naturist holiday! She didn’t need to tell me so many details surrounding the need for the cream, but it was interesting to hear about and the patient seem to mind telling me about it! 

Recently my locum agency wanted me to work 25 hours in one weekend at the end of September – a 8am to 11pm shift on Saturday and a 9am to 7pm shift on the Sunday. I agreed to work the Sunday shift but not the Saturday one. I know that in the future as a doctor I might have to work long hours, but as I currently have the liberty of refusing shifts, I’m taking full advantage. I just wouldn’t have felt confident in still being clinically safe to work after 15 straight hours, plus when I’m in uni full time Mon-Fri and have work to do outside of lectures, I need time off at some point! How much need though is there for a Pharmacy situated on the outskirts of a small town to be open until 11pm on a Saturday? It seems a bit pointless to me.

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