Four Questions You Should Never Ask Your Pharmacist

Lucy, on the comic strip Peanuts, often sits behind her sign offering psychiatric help for five cents. But there’s a reason why medical doctors don’t work in carnival-style booths. Pharmacists are some of the most accessible medical professionals in the country, and they end up meeting all kinds of customers with absurd questions. To help these professionals keep their sanity, there are a few questions you just shouldn’t ask.

“Does this look infected?”

This happens a lot. The average person is uncertain about whether a discolored wound looks infected, and they can be unsure about whether to just buy bandages or a full strength antibiotic cream. If possible, don’t ask the pharmacist. They have people shoving wounds in their faces all day, and not everybody is able to stomach the parade of leaky pustules and weeping scabs. To be sure, it’s good to take care of your wounds, and some professionals may not mind if they’re asked politely. Still, the point remains that you wouldn’t thrust the offensive injury under another stranger’s nose, and you should be considerate that the human in the lab coat may not be in the mood.

“Do you think I might be pregnant?”

To be sure, it’s an important question. The unplanned pregnancies of first-time mothers can be particularly disorienting, but a pharmacist won’t be able to give a certain answer when you’re only a few days late. They can direct you to the pregnancy test kits, but it isn’t their job to educate you on the entire reproductive system. All kinds of biological and environmental factors can affect your monthly cycle, and there are more variables than you can communicate in a couple of questions. Make a point of learning how your body works, get a test kit to take home, and schedule an appointment with your OB/GYN.

“Can you give me an early refill on my narcotics prescription?”

They’ve heard it all, and there’s no real way for you to convince someone that you aren’t just losing a fight against addiction. Your physician has prescribed an appropriate dosage and time period, and the pharmacy can’t help if you’ve run out early. Even if you’re about to go on a vacation, that’s not something to be negotiated and adjusted in this setting. Addicts wander into these stores all the time, using every excuse in the book. Maybe they just need a sample, or they claim to have verbal permission to get two bottles at once. There are tight laws around controlled substances, and they’re generally for your protection.

“Can you make an exception, just this once?”

Whether it’s about narcotics or just another refill that hasn’t yet been authorized, don’t ask your pharmacist to bend the rules. These medical professionals have studied and worked to get to their position, and they would be putting their families and careers at risk for your convenience.

In the end, it’s mainly a matter of being considerate. The pharmacy can be confusing because these workers are almost as accessible as cashiers, and yet they play an important role in making sure people receive the right medications.

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