Dealing with random questions from people who find out you're a pharmacist

Discussion in 'Pharmacy' started by pianomo, Jan 11, 2019.

  1. pianomo

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    Title says it all. How do you deal with questions you get outside of work?

    I'm talking about questions pertaining to personal medical advice.
     
  2. Rouelle

    PhD Pharmacist 7+ Year Member

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    This virtually never happens to me.

    I have a circle of prescriber friends who occasionally call me on dosing or availability. That doesn’t really bother me, but it’s not really the same as what you are asking.
     
    #2 Rouelle, Jan 11, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2019
  3. zelman

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    I’d rather talk about medicines than most small talk. I’m fine with it.
     
  4. owlegrad

    owlegrad Uncontrollable Sarcasm Machine
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    The number one question I get is how "aspirin" (or any OTC medication) can be so expensive from one brand and so cheap from another, or some close variation on that question. Truly I do not understand how this is confusing since literally every commodity works exactly like that but I usually just go with "greed" and leave it at that.

    If I think I know the answer I just answer. Otherwise I recommend they ask their doctor. Many times the question has more to do with a symptom than a medication and I make it my policy to never hazard guesses about symptoms so I often end up referring them to their doctor anyway.
     
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  5. steveysmith54

    steveysmith54 Member
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    How much is viagra
     
  6. RxVampire

    RxVampire PharmDruggist
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    Same/similar here...leave the diagnosing to the prescribers; there's always more to the story/omitted information anyways
     
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  7. lane one

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    Lots of medical of professionals in my family/friends group...so i'm mostly the punching bag for "Hey, guess what this idiot pharmacist said today" jokes. I guess it's better than constantly getting "Hey, does this look like ghonoherpesiphilitis to you!?!?" consults.
     
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  8. Modest_anteater

    Modest_anteater Is today your last day on Earth?

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    I have virtually no friends so I don't have this problem. Interesting hypothetical though.
     
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  9. bacillus1

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    Generally it goes like this:
    Family: What would you recommend for (disease)?
    Me: I would recommend (drug A) if there are no comorbid conditions or drug interactions.
    Family: But (other family or friend) uses (drug B) and it helped them. We only want (drug B). What's the dose for (drug B)? By the way, we are trying to use it in Ukraine for a relative who won't have readily available access to a PCP at all times due to dementia. We also want Ukrainian brand names.
    Me: OK, here's a crazy titration schedule for (drug B) along with international brand names I pulled from Lexi. Good luck.
    Family: OK OK we want (drug A) now. By the way, what about 3 other friends in different parts of the world? They are taking (insert international brand name)? is this the same thing?
    Me: Yes
    Family: OK what's the dose? And by the way, for everyone taking (drug B) already, should they all be switched to (drug A)
    Me: Ask your doctor
    Family: But we don't want to.

    I have literally had the same conversation multiple times in the past month about dementia drugs. Oh, and also about family members with extensive medication lists continuing to use herbals.
     
  10. JustFillIt

    JustFillIt Probationary Status

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    Its fine..... that sort of conversation is completely normal and if you have a problem with someone taking an interest in your knowledge than that is something that you should let go because it’s quite prideful.

    When I meet new people a subject of interest is “so what do you do “ - then this brings up a whole new set in interesting things to talk about. I take a genuie interest In people and their skills, in turn it is human nature to return the interest.

    What is so wrong with that?
     
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  11. spacecowgirl

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    I don't mind at all. My friends and family use me as a resource and I appreciate their trust in my opinion.
     
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  12. gwarm01

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    Usually they ask if it's okay to take their leftover antibiotics for their current illness. I've given up trying to explain how different infections might require different antibiotics and just recommend they see a doctor or go to urgent care. They probably just take the antibiotics anyway.
     
  13. mustang sally

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    It's usually just close friends and family who ask me questions, so it really doesn't bother me.

    Occasionally a hospital employee will stop by the pharmacy to ask a question as well (which can be more awkward at times).

    Neither situation occurs often enough to really be a burden to me personally.

    You could always refer them to their primary if you really don't want to to give out medical advice. Or give some basic advice prefaced by saying there is no substitute for a visit with your primary.
     
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  14. Luol Deng Fan

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    You should tell them about antibiotic resistance.
     
  15. BenJammin

    BenJammin No Apologies
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    I always refuse to answer those questions, especially if they're about products or symptoms. You guys who do are crazy. That's a lot of liability you're putting yourself in. Doesn't matter if you're not inside the pharmacy.
     
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  16. JustFillIt

    JustFillIt Probationary Status

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    I would have to say your the crazy one.... Crazy paranoid...

    It pays to be smart and tactful in the things that you say regardless of the setting.. I have had thousands of those conversations never with any liability. Who are you talking to anyway?
     
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  17. Luol Deng Fan

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    I wonder if doctors think like that when someone is having a heart attack.
     
  18. spacecowgirl

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    Lawyers apparently.
     
  19. BenJammin

    BenJammin No Apologies
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    The ones who offer Tums certainly should
     
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  20. JustFillIt

    JustFillIt Probationary Status

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    Haha! This made me lol!
     
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  21. lord999

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    As above, and you get used to it as it's natural. I always think to myself "I'm glad that I'm not a physician" even when the questions irritate me. I do think that you can decline gracefully in social situations by bringing up, "well, I am your friend, but do you really want me to know this?" in response to some questions.

    There's been a couple of times where I did save an acquaintance's life ("God, after taking that digoxin stuff for heart failure, I'm getting the worst stomachaches" implying digitalis poisoning) or ("I'm getting a paternity test, my wife's pregnant"/Me: "Wait, didn't you get your vasectomy five years ago? Hopefully, Dr. X didn't screw this up." which turns out as expected that the urologist did her job properly and the wife didn't do hers) that I don't cut off these questions without hearing them out.
     
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  22. owlegrad

    owlegrad Uncontrollable Sarcasm Machine
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    I will bite. Do you have an example of any pharmacist ever getting sued over bad medical advice given out in a social context?


    Sent from my iPhone using SDN mobile
     
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  23. lord999

    Pharmacist Faculty Moderator Emeritus Verified Expert 10+ Year Member

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    Yes, two cases in the 50s, and there is actually an entire casebook (Richard Epstein) devoted to physician versions of the case being the legal question is whether or not a provider-patient relationship is established in those informal settings. Turns out for pharmacists, yes it does, but you also have to remember that it's not gone to trial anytime recently for pharmacy (this was in the era where it was actually illegal to tell a patient about their meds and the physicians were the plaintiffs against the pharmacists!). Turns out for physicians, it's complicated.

    But seriously, no one here's heard of an umbrella personal liability policy? Guess no one has enough assets to worry about owning one? Hell, one of the Remington Medal winners got himself sued for $3M for hitting someone at the country club with a golf ball. I don't necessarily disagree with @BenJammin , but I hope we're normally not stupid enough to answer complicated questions while tired and emotional (aka drunk) or otherwise compromised. I mean, you hope we have enough intelligence to know the humane answers versus knowing when to say it's out of scope for a dinner party.
     
  24. BenJammin

    BenJammin No Apologies
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    I've never been a fan of questions like that, ones that ask to name a previously existing scenario which you are trying to avoid. Here's my answer: I don't want to be the first.
     
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  25. allantois

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    "Talk to your doctor about it"
     
  26. ChalupaBatman86

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    “Yes, I also saw those commercials on TV and I am also going to ask my doctor or pharmacist if all those drugs are right for me! I’ve just been the boss of pharmacists for a long time and I don’t really know anything anymore”.


    Sent from my iPhone using SDN mobile
     
  27. owlegrad

    owlegrad Uncontrollable Sarcasm Machine
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    Ok, fair point. I don't want to be the first case of spontaneous human combustion either.

    I will put my objection to your comment another way. I do not think your fear is legitimate.

    I mean giving away advice to friends and family cannot possibly be more dangerous than giving it to your patients, can it? So really your only 'liability' is the same liability that you have at work when answering any OTC or consultation questions (and I doubt there is even the same liability, but for the sake of argument I will go along with that premise). Presumably most pharmacists have probably answered hundreds if not thousands of consultation questions and know the boundaries of their knowledge and when it is appropriate to answer questions and when it is appropriate to refer. So yeah, I am willing to give my friends and family the benefit of my knowledge, within the boundaries I explained earlier. It certainly does not make me "crazy" to accept all this extra liability that you seem to think comes from even talking to people. Get real.
     
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  28. Modest_anteater

    Modest_anteater Is today your last day on Earth?

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    Yeah i've never heard of someone getting sued by a friend for bad medical advice. I think this is more of a theoretical thingy than an actual thing that ever happened.
     
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  29. Sine Cura

    Sine Cura 10 seconds or less
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    I don't mind answering questions for family and friends.

    Randos, though, can **** right off. I deal with enough of them at work.
     
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  30. BenJammin

    BenJammin No Apologies
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    You realize that your example is apples and oranges right? You know your patients and have access to their health records. Most of us are in pharmacist mode at the pharmacy or at least more so than outside of that setting. Do you really know the medical history of the person sitting next to you at the DMV? What about the guy with you in the beer aisle of the grocery store who wants to ask you something because he found out you're a pharmacist? Understand that when you accept a professional obligation, you have to fulfill it. If a patient asks you about a medication they're taking, you give incomplete advice, they take it and get harmed as a result? You are liable. Doesn't matter that you're at the DMV and not the pharmacy. You accept the duty as if you were behind the counter. If you want to take that risk be my guest. I'd prefer to not expose myself to more liability than I already do in life as a medical professional.
     
  31. Deja

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    you don't have everyones med list and do you really go look everyone up before answering OTC questions?
     
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  32. BidingMyTime

    BidingMyTime Lost Shaker Of Salt
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    That is one of the reasons why I have a pharmacist's liability insurance, to cover me for any claims arising from advise I gave outside of the workplace. All pharmacist's should have their own pharmacist's liability insurance.

    As for friends/family, I am seldom asked or advice, but when I am, I am confident in giving them the same advice I would give to a patient.
     
  33. CetiAlphaFive

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    The worst questions and the only ones I refuse to answer are from annoying pain management patients who call because they want to "prove the doctor wrong"
     
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  34. BenJammin

    BenJammin No Apologies
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    A competent pharmacist asks for it. I'm more likely to ask for it at the pharmacy than I am outside of work where I enjoy my time away from the clinical grind. I'm not going to turn my grocery store visit into an extended counseling session just to fulfill a professional duty.
     
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  35. panicatthepharmacy

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    "Can I drink with _____" is a big one among my circle.

    Also, my neighbor is constantly calling/texting with minor questions about side effects, etc. But he gives us free reign at his pool all summer so it's cook.
     
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  36. Deja

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    really? you really ask for a whole med list for every OTC questions in retail setting or you refuse to answer? so I guess there are a lot of incompetent pharmacists out there
     
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  37. SCRph2014

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    I normally don't mind answering simple questions for friends and family -- head colds, allergies, etc. Though I have had to tell my mother-in-law to NOT tell people I'm a pharmacist when the average age of people in the room is older than 65. She did that on a family trip and I ended up with great uncle whats-his-name with multiple co-morbidities asking me every question under the sun
     
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  38. Timbo

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    I don't get questions as much as comments about how I probably make tons of money and I could pretty much find a job anywhere I want. The public still think pharmacists are in demand :/
     
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  39. rxkrafted

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    I get asked what I do as a pharmacist lol
     
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  40. Sparda29

    Sparda29 En Taro Adun
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    The main question I get is, "why don't you open up a pharmacy man? how much money do you really need to open one? i'll give you a loan and i'll hook you up with a doctor, he'll send you all his patients! i'll pay you $50/hr and 25% profit"
     
  41. sakigt

    sakigt Junior Member
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    I get a lot of questions and don't mind them. Ive only minded two:

    1. Can my sister take her dogs random BZD Ive never heard of.
    2. Can you get this $$$$$ expensive medicine with a script from Panama, do all the legwork, get the price from my friend, just kidding we got it elsewhere! Don't tell your nosey mother in law (whatttttttt?????)
     
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