Sunday, 2 February 2014

Tales from the pharmacy 001.

A trip to the chemist to collect our relative’s prescriptions led one of the medical team we are now forced to report on to note the following.

A patient in the pharmacy who had been to their own doctor was unhappy that they had not been prescribed for free what they had wanted namely a linctus for a cough. They had instead been diagnosed quite correctly from the history given so freely to all those in the chemist’s shop with a simple but very common at this time of the year viral Upper Respiratory Tract Infection (viral URTI = dry, painful, cough and a sore throat = painful windpipe, voice change and fever) which requires no treatment.

Please remember when visiting your GP to add really, really, really, really bad before all of the above bog standard symptoms that our GPs see each day and even come to work at this time of year with all of them at once and no treatment.

What followed was interrogation of the thick by the thick and gullible for the sole benefit of private gain. This was not by the degree educated pharmacist but by their (relatively) untrained dispensing staff. The team recall a few years ago reading a piece in a much missed medical blog saying that pharmacists’ accuracy of diagnosis is about 50% the same as tossing a coin. We do not know if there are any figures for dispensing staff diagnostic accuracy.

The punter, sorry patient, was asked to describe their cough. Was it chesty, dry, tickly, or mucus? Was it a cold or flu? Was it bronchial?

A quick scan round the medicines on display for purchase revealed that all these words correspond to the stacked items available for purchase by patients as they waited for their real but mostly free dispensed rather than sold medicines. No different to sweeties at the supermarket checkouts with free tissues for any purchase of any “flu” remedies as well.

For our doctors the questions they ask about diseases of the chest are limited to the following:

Shortness of breath
Haemoptysis (coughing up of blood) 

None of these were asked at the chemists but none of these were on the bottles of what is little more than legally peddled snake oil or Dr Feelgood which tastes very, very nice as did Southern Comfort which was once popular at grunt school and frequently referred to as “cough medicine” because of its taste. Drink too much too quickly and you coughed but useless for a cough as it did medically very little or nothing as did the stacked bottles of Dr. Feelgood cough medicines. It did however taste very nice but at a cost just like the cough medicines on display all those years ago and with a secret recipe. 

The patient got what they wanted, for a price, but they had paid for something they didn’t need and will do them sweet FA.

Amazing what you learn in a chemist’s shop.

And can anyone can tell us the exact definition of what a “chesty cough” is for those ignorant idle over paid GPs with more than 2 centuries of medical experience between them would be very gratefu if you could?

Pharmacists and doctors 2 peoples separated by a common language. And look where the big Society wants the over 75s to go first. Linctus you know it makes sense - to big business.

Praise be to the Party for dumbing down on the cheap while ensuring that the private sector benefits from the ignorance of patients and politicians and profits from such ignorance.