Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist June 2012 Contents 496 Australian Pharmacist June 2012 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
So, if some pharmacists make the
assumption that ORT clients have
hepatitis C -- are they treating these
clients less favourably?
'I would assume that they have hepatitis
C. I don't necessarily go... do you have
hepatitis C -- they may nd that, um, too
o ensive'. (PI 8,344).
Relationships with ORT clients
Interestingly we had a lot of positive
comments about the good relationships
that often are established between
pharmacists and ORT clients.
'...They come in here and you know they're
usually rude and revolting for the rst
week... and then they realise that people
are human and... they respect what they've
got to do here, then we respect what they
do'. (PI 4, 72).
This good relationship may even extend
to one of mutual support.
'I've had issues like when I've been on my
own late at night and methadone clients
will stay in the pharmacy and wait until
whatever drama is going on is resolved to
make sure that the pharmacist is all right
because... you've got a relationship with
them. They can get quite protective of the
pharmacist as well so it works both ways'.
(PI 1, 183)
'There are customers I might feel
uncomfortable treating, but generally
speaking those people aren't on
methadone, they're other people that might
come in and be rude, or... not very pleasant
to deal with. They're not methadone clients,
I've never had a problem with methadone
clients'. (PI 3, 337).
Despite many examples of good
relationships between pharmacists
and ORT clients there were there also
examples of di culties.
'Frequently people will call you any name
under the sun, they'll threaten your life,
they'll knock over shelves in the store...
a lot of time it's around either like dose
reviews and pain issues, and of course
Non-payment of doses was an issue that
arose frequently, although in this sample
of pharmacists, most were prepared to
Pharmacists also often mentioned
clients being disruptive, causing a scene,
and alarming other customers.
'If you were doing prescriptions and
things... they'll just barge in... and be
quite abusive if you don't attend to them
straight away. And that can be intimidating
for other customers. You are looking at our
livelihood.' (PI 8-9,192).
A number of pharmacists highlighted
events where their personal security had
'Last week I had a girl that bit me. She took
some sunglasses and, um, I told her, you
know, put them back and then she pulled a
pair of scissors and then she was going to
stab me. Well she just got through my coat
but then she bit me and then you know the
police came and they got her because we
have a hold-up button... That girl was a
drug user, but she was also mental as well'.
(PI 13, 168)
Other issues raised by participants
concerned stealing merchandise,
scamming, and threatening behaviour.
But was there any evidence of
discriminatory attitudes on behalf of the
pharmacists? Only one quote suggested
that pharmacists might sometimes treat
pharmacotherapy clients worse than
'I mean they (pharmacists) are rude, rude to
their clients and it doesn't have to be that
way. A lot of pharmacists...are nasty...
'Are you coming on time?' or 'What are you
doing?' or 'Just sit still'...it's too much. I have
met pharmacists with that attitude in the
program. (PI 16, 72)
The attitude exempli ed in this quote
may be more to do with the frustrations
of running a busy business than
discrimination. It is certainly does
not suggest the underlying negative
attitude as shown by a non-pharmacy
health professional in a di erent arm of
'... you do tend to judge...[if] there was
a gorgeous looking young lady came in
[with hep C] ... you'd think, "oh, bloody hell,
poor thing", you know. But if it was some
deadbeat, you think, "oh, well, another
scumbag, needle pushing this, that and the
other..."' [DI 01, 423]
Support for pharmacists
As highlighted above, there were many
positive comments about the relationships
pharmacists had developed with their
clients, despite several examples of
disruptive or threatening behaviour.
We asked participants about whether
they were able to tap into any source
of support when they had experienced
'I've got a couple of other friends who do the
methadone program as well. So if there's any
issues then I'll just ring up and have a talk'
'There isn't any support per se, I mean other
than family and friends... you go and have a
red wine and go... "Oh my God you wouldn't
believe the day" (laughs)... but professionally
yeah I'm struggling to think of any. In terms
of support as in other people who have been
through it or agencies that you could ring...
very very little (PI 5, 73).
One pharmacist felt unprepared for
'This has been a real eye opener for me...
I have a fairly straight background... And
you come in here and every second person
would have a record. It obviously doesn't
happen everywhere but maybe because of
where we are situated, you know, and it's
something that certainly I've never had any
training for' (PI 10, 180).
This small qualitative study of pharmacists
investigating their experience, knowledge
and attitudes regarding people with
hepatitis C was undertaken to elucidate
earlier ndings suggesting that people with
hepatitis C were treated less favourably by
pharmacists than those without hepatitis
C. However, the results showed that
pharmacists generally had no reason to
ask about hepatitis C status, and although
they may have at times assumed clients
had hepatitis C, it had no impact on their
interactions with these clients. In general,
in pharmacy work, there is no need for a
situation to arise where transmission of
hepatitis C could possibly occur.
Often pharmacists spoke of good
relationships with their clients on ORT,
although di culties were sometimes
encountered when clients were disruptive.
Many pharmacists have had an experience
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