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    How to Deal with Your Worst Customers

    All pharmacists have faced a bad situation with a customer. Here are some tactics for  turning it around—and what to do when you can’t.


    When to call the police

    But what should you do when the patient is threatening or becomes violent? 

    “If there is a real, recognizable threat, you can act,” said Williams. If a patient makes threats or if someone has thrown things or knocked over displays, you should call the police, he said. “You describe the circumstances and allow the professionals to act, to advise you about what to do, and then make a judgement about that.”

    “Trust your instinct. Anytime you feel you are in danger it is best to remove yourself from the situation. If you need to call for some assistance, do it,” said Butler.

    Related article: When Going the Extra Mile isn’t Enough

    The continuing opioid epidemic may be an emerging source of difficulty with some patients, Williams noted. As more restrictions are put on the number of opioid pills that can be prescribed, people who are addicted may start acting out more often when they are denied prescriptions or refills, he said.

    The difficult patient will probably always be part of the practice of pharmacy. “If you are seeing lots of patients every day, you are going to get folks in all sorts of emotional states and who exhibit all sorts of neurotic behavior,” Williams said. “You have to have skills to reckon with that. Or you are not going be successful and you are going to hate your practice.”

    But being able to deal with and defuse problem situations can offer its own rewards. “If you are successful, if you can turn the patient around ... that can be very satisfying. It can be a very rewarding feeling to know that I haven’t been a door mat, but I have been successful with this patient.” 

    Valerie DeBenedette
    Valerie DeBenedette is Managing Editor of Drug Topics.


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