Rite Aid Pharmacy Is A Biatch

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Nick writes:

Nick writes:

    I recently had a horrible, horrible experience at my local Rite Aid when I went in to fill a prescription. I won’t rehash the details here as they are thoroughly captured in the email (attached) I sent to their, ahem, Customer Service department… a month ago. Basically, the pharmacist wanted to play doctor and deny my prescriptions and when I called her on the fact that, uh, she couldn’t do this she got downright mean. I did get a response from a CS rep saying (essentially) “Oh crap this is serious. I’ve sent it to the Regional Manager. They will contact you ASAP.” and then, nothing. This was a month ago.

    So anyway, if you see fit, we can all shake our collective fists at Rite Aid. Not that it’s a secret that they suck or anything.

    Anyway, after this I took my prescription to the CVS that just opened up down the street and even though they were jammin’ with customers (I suppose there is a reason for that, eh?), they took exceptional care of me. Funny how you really appreciate some compassion when you’re hock-up-blood sick, huh?

Inside, the complaint letter Nick wrote Rite Aid, in all its golden, speaking-for-itself glory.

    “I am writing to express my utter disbelief in the abysmal level of service I received while attempting to fill a prescription at your Store #5548 (18444 Plummer Street, Northridge, CA 91325).

    I have been suffering from a rather painful lung infection for the past month. During this ordeal I have been awakened most nights coughing up bloody sputum, which I then choke on, leading to little or no rest and thereby greatly increasing my recovery time. Not the most pleasant of circumstances, I can assure you. Upon seeing my doctor (9/5/2006) I was given a combination of antibiotics intravenously as well as two separate prescriptions for Tussinex, a cough medication, and Cipro, a strong antibiotic.

    Immediately following my visit with my GP, I went to my local Rite Aid pharmacy to fill them both (roughly 6:15 PM, 9/5/2006). The first problem I encountered was with the complete lack of attention the pharmacy staff paid to the customers. There was no one in line, save for me, yet the pharmacy staff were preoccupied with standing around each other chatting about what they planned on watching on television that evening. One woman looked over at me multiple times, making eye contact but not once acknowledging my presence. This went on for approximately 5 minutes until she walked into the back, removed her smock and informed me that “someone else will be right with me” and that she had “just got off the clock”.

    Finally after a few more minutes of awkward waiting and throat clearing, another ‘pharmacist’ came to help me, yet she seemed completely unfamiliar with either of the medications I was prescribed; where they were located, what they did, etc.. I informed her that my insurance has only generic drug benefits and since neither of my prescriptions had generic equivalents I would like to get the cost up front. (Being the day before payday and returning from paying my GPs office visit fee had left me with approximately $100 until payday the next day, 9/6/06). She looked them both up on the computer and informed me that the Cipro was approx. $115- and the Tussionex would come out to approx. $75-. I informed her that I would only be able to fill one of my prescriptions, namely the one that I could afford and would provide me with the means for relief that evening and I would have to pick up the other prescription the next day when I got paid.

    Hearing me discuss this, the other pharmacist on duty, who would later only identify herself as “Akeen”, approached me and I explained what I had just told the previous woman. She took a moment to punch something into the computer before saying to me “I’m sorry, but unless you are planning on filling both of these today, I am going to refuse to fill this.” Feeling as sick and exhausted as I was, and now embarrassed, thinking I had done something wrong, I left empty-handed and called my GP for clarification.

    Upon hearing this, the Doctor was livid! He said, ‘There is a reason I wrote you two separate and wholly different prescriptions. If I had meant to require that both be filled at the same time, I would have indicated that. I gave you an injection of Cipro today, so you can not even start taking your oral Cipro for another 24 hours. She has no right to deny you your medication.”

    At that news I called the store and asked to speak to the manager. I was informed that there was no manager there, but directed to “Steven” (Stephen?) who identified himself as the acting manager. He was exceptionally receptive to my concerns and seemed as befuddled as both me and my doctor were as to why I was being denied my medication. He promised to look into it and asked to put me on hold. (Frankly, out of this entire ordeal, Steven was the most commendable of all, as he seemed genuinely interested in Customer Service.)

    After being on hold for approximately 5 minutes, I was transferred back to the pharmacy and back to Akeen. She explained that she was denying me my medication because that “that was just the way she practiced” and said that “Whenever I get a prescription for a pain killer and an antibiotic I make sure that they are both filled together”. Once again I restated the facts to her:

    – I had received intravenous antibiotics already that evening, so I could not start my antibiotic routine for another 24 hours anyway (which, coincidentally, is when I would have the funds available to pick up the balance of my medication)

    – The Tussionex was not being prescribed to me for its analgesic properties (as she had implied above), but for its anti-tussive properties. The point was to provide me with some relief from my symptoms so that I may be able to get the rest I need to fully recover.

    – The prescriptions were completely separate, on completely separate forms and nothing stating that they MUST or were even ADVISED to be filled together.

    I then asked, hypothetically, “Now if had walked into there and just handed you the one prescription form, would you have filled it then?” To which she replied “Without a question, however since I now know that you have an antibiotic prescription as well, I will refuse to fill it, because that’s just the way I practice.”

    Throughout our entire conversation, I was not treated with the respect that a human deserves, much less the compassion that I would hope a pharmacist would show to someone who is ill. My questions were never given a courteous, complete response and when pressed further I was continuously met with the reply “Well, that’s just the way I practice.” As if her Rite Aid pharmacy name tag somehow gives her more knowledge and authority than my General Practitioner, who has been practicing internal medicine for over 40 years.

    At one point I was even interrupted so that she could make a snarky comment about my economic status, stating “You know, there are other pharmacies. Perhaps you should put the time in to find one you can afford.” Excuse me? Is this the type of employee that you would like representing your organization? Insults and poor manners aside, her haughty, arrogant attitude and denial of patient care for no other reason than “That is just the way [she] practice[s]” opens your organization to TREMENDOUS liability.

    All in all, this incident has left me completely disgusted. From now on, I will do what I finally did last night and take my business to the CVS down the street where they hire pharmacists who don’t delude themselves into thinking they are doctors so that they can arbitrarily exert power over those who come to them for relief. I will encourage my friends, family and co-workers to do the same, as NO ONE deserves to be treated so disdainfully by someone they are turning to for help.”

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