Wednesday, April 4, 2012

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

An Austrian lady had left home without her medication. Could I come and write a prescription?

These requests arrive perhaps once a week. A surprisingly number of travelers forget to pack their narcotics, Ritalin, or sleeping pills; all are willing to pay for a visit to remedy this oversight. No sensible hotel doctor complies (but that does not include all hotel doctors). For the rest, I have no trouble replacing legitimate, ongoing medication. This lady needed blood pressure pills.

In the past, I offered to phone a pharmacy, but this took a long time as patients scrambled to find the name, dose, and instructions. Nowadays I tell guests to go to a pharmacy, explain exactly what they need, and give my number. I would approve it over the phone.

Guests are pleased that it is so simple and more pleased to learn that I don’t charge for this. I enjoy their gratitude and tell myself that this is good P.R.

Several hours later, a caller explained that he was the tour leader for an Austrian group.

“I was told you gave a prescription for one of our members. Could you tell me where is the pharmacy?”

The lady’s English was not good, so she had misheard me. I repeated my instructions. An hour later, I answered a call from the driver for the tour bus. He had given the name of the lady’s medication to a pharmacist who had refused to accept it. Again, I explained that the lady had to tell the pharmacist precisely what she needed including the dose and instructions.

An hour later, a pharmacist informed me that a customer was requesting a medication that didn’t exist in the US. I pointed out that there was undoubtedly something similar.

He phoned back with a suggestion, and I told him to give the lady as many as she needed. He asked for the dose and instructions. I told him the lady would have to determine that.

Several hours passed before the pharmacy called again because the lady had to phone her doctor in Austria. In the end, she received her medication.

Don’t forget to pack your pills.

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