Monday, 10 October 2011

By on October 10th, 2011 in Barbara, science kits, technology

09:04 – Barbara went to the hospital Thursday for knee-replacement surgery. Everything went extremely well. She was released yesterday and will now be recuperating at home for the next few weeks. Colin, of course, is delighted that she’s home. Few things worry a puppy more than having a litter mate disappear. He was obviously stressed the entire time she was gone. He had been just about perfect on house-training, but that suffered while she was gone. There was constant whining, yipping, and wandering around the house looking for her, and that was just me.

Barbara left the hospital with only two prescriptions, one for 10 syringes of an injectable anticoagulant and the other for a hundred 5 mg oxycodone tablets. She insisted on stopping at Walgreens on the way home to get the prescriptions filled, so I handed them to the pharmacist and waited while she filled them. I was quite disturbed at what happened. When she’d finished making up the prescriptions, she told me that they had only two of the anticoagulant injectors in stock and that I’d have to stop by Tuesday to pick up the other two. The other two? I was expecting eight more. I figured maybe the injectors were multi-dose, but when I got back out to the car I asked Barbara and we checked the paperwork they’d given her. Sure enough, we were supposed to get ten syringes. So I went back in and waited another five or ten minutes to talk to the pharmacist. When I mentioned the problem, she treated it very casually, saying that indeed I was supposed to get eight more syringes on Tuesday and that she’d been confused by the dosage of 0.4 mg into thinking I was to get a total of only four. Isn’t the first duty of a pharmacist not to make such mistakes in dispensing medication? In this case, we caught the mistake, but we shouldn’t have had to. I’m still thinking about whether to report this to Walgreens. She seemed like a nice young woman, but mistakes like this could have fatal consequences.

10:18 – This is cool. My old friend John Mikol just emailed me:

Leo Laporte was plugging your chemistry set and book, I hope it sends some sales your way.

It’s about 32 minutes in:

13:24 – Incidentally, I just realized I hadn’t commented yet on using the Baby Kindle 4. Side-by-side with my Kindle 3, the Baby Kindle 4 is noticeably smaller and lighter. Not that the Kindle 3 is particularly large or heavy, but the Baby Kindle 4 is enough smaller that it’s much easier for me to grip securely. With the Kindle 3, I was always afraid that I’d drop it if Colin nudged my arm or something. I can grip the Kindle 4 securely. And it’s still running on its original charge, despite the fact that its battery is half the capacity of the Kindle 3’s and I used it fairly heavily while Barbara was in the hospital. Overall, I’m very pleased with the Baby Kindle 4 and happy that I chose it rather than the touch model. Even the ads aren’t intrusive, although I understand there’s now an option to remove them by paying Amazon another $30.

27 Comments and discussion on "Monday, 10 October 2011"

  1. SteveF says:

    My policy on pharmacist mistakes is that I don’t worry about verbal slips like “pick up two more later”. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that when it comes to handing you pills or syringes they’ll get the numbers right. I’m less tolerant of slips in pill counts, but that’s very rare; I haven’t seen it in a decade, probably, and with all of the medicines I’ve picked up and checked for my family members, that’s quite a pile of pills.

    The one that really annoys me is drug interactions. When I’m picking up three prescriptions for a 75-year-old woman, it’s prudent to ask what else she’s taking and to make sure everything is safe together. Or when this prescription must be taken four times a day on an empty stomach and that one must be taken three times a day with food, let’s make sure the requirements are understood. Usually the older people (presumably actual pharmacists with experience) behind the counter are good about that. The younger people (presumably students or newbies) are hit-or-miss. Fortunately, I’m blessed with a loud voice and a lack of concern for embarrassing people, so the senior pharmacist often comes over and straightens out the problem if I ask the junior guy why he didn’t discuss the day’s pile with me.

  2. Ray Thompson says:

    When my wife had her hip replaced this year they put her on coumadin pills, no injections. Her recovery went quite well as she gradually reduced the pain medication.

    My mother and brother have had knees replaced as has a lady at work. All said during the recovery “why did I ever do this.” After the recovery all said “why did I wait so long to have it done.” Recovery takes time but it will be worth it. Supposedly knees have a more difficult recovery than hip replacement even though the hip replacement is much more invasive and leaves a 10 inch incision scar.

    As for the pharmacist she may have been confused by the doctors writing. In which case she should have called the doctor.

  3. Miles_Teg says:

    “She seemed like a nice young woman, but mistakes like this could have fatal consequences.”

    SHe made a mistake. That’s bad in a pharmacist. But being casual, as you said, is serious. She should have been more apologetic. I’d probably report it.

  4. Andy Preston says:

    To me, that’s just another argument for digital prescriptions. No handwriting hassles, greatly decreased possibility of confusion & of fraud, etc. Drug X, Dosage N mg, frequency Y / day, quantity Z. And certainly, if you’re a regular patron of Walgreens, their computer could very quickly search for and flag drug interactions – “Hey, patient Barbara Thompson is on a daily dose of Maintenaceite. That’s not good when in combination with this prescription for NewGunk.”

  5. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Yes, the mistake was bad enough–what if we hadn’t realized that Barbara was supposed to be on the anticoagulant for 10 days rather than four?–but her casual attitude was what really disturbed me. If I had been in her position, I’d have been horrified at making such a mistake. Medication errors kill a lot of patients.

  6. SteveF says:

    A Kindle note. Two, rather.

    First, I finally shelled out the bucks for a Kindle because I needed to check that the photo-heavy book I’m writing would look good. And a good thing I did. Pictures that look fine in the Kindle previewer or Kindle for Windows are very substandard on an actual eInk screen. Not so bad on my brother’s Nook, for what it’s worth. So, advice to would-be ereader authors: check your artwork on the real hardware.

    And second: There seems to be some confusion over whose Kindle this is. The difference in weight between a stack of books and a Kindle seems to have caused a gravitational anomaly which drags the device to Son#2’s room. Fortunately, my wife doesn’t read English for pleasure (she still thinks in Chinese) because I’d have qualms about using physical violence to get my Kindle back. No such qualms with a teenage boy who’s as tall as I.

  7. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    I’m told that there’s significant variation in e-ink screens. Apparently, there was a huge jump in quality between the original e-ink screen of the Kindle 1 and 2 to the e-ink Pearl of the Kindle 3 (and Nook 2). The Kindle 4 supposedly has a slightly improved e-ink Pearl screen relative to the Kindle 3. But there’s also apparently noticeable differences from one Kindle 3 or 4 (or Nook) to another of the same model.

  8. Chuck Waggoner says:

    SteveF’s comments, along with our host’s story, added to my older relatives’ stories, and now my own personal experience, make me wonder if there is not something seriously wrong in the pharmacy trade.

    One of the relatives’ experience involved getting wrong dosages of stuff that could have had dire consequences (and they have more stories than that). Fortunately, the husband involved was an engineer by trade, and has been used to triple–checking nearly everything in his life, and that time it really paid off. The pharmacy involved was hardly apologetic, let alone concerned.

    I have a small skin condition that requires a VERY expensive tube of prescription medication. US$219 for 60g. The tube is first of all a very poor design for such an expensive drug. It looks like a toothpaste tube, but much more flimsy. Topping it off, the cap has only about one turn of thread to secure it–even $2 toothpaste tubes have more turns than that.

    Well, after I had it for a few days, even when I screwed the cap on tightly, it leaked out the cap at the base of where it screwed on. And every morning I saw at least 10 times the daily amount I was to put on my skin, having leaked out onto the medicine cabinet (and dried out so it was useless to apply). After enduring 3 days of this loss, I took it back to Walmart and complained to the pharmacy. The chief pharmacist then engaged in a vociferous argument with me, saying I was the cause of the leak, by squeezing the tube too hard. I responded that the leak occurred AFTER I had replaced the cap, and over hours when the tube did nothing but sit on the medicine cabinet shelf. If it were a $20 tube of stuff, the leak would hardly matter to me, but since it was $219 for only 60 grams, the continuing leak certainly did matter (it was leaking while I stood there, but the pharmacist refused to examine it—which really made me question his motives and the arguing).

    Although I asked for a refund, the pharmacist refused, saying prescriptions can never be refunded, but they would give me another tube. I took them up on that. Meanwhile, he did a lot a muttering under his breath to the colleagues around him, sotto voce so I could not hear what he was saying. The second tube is not leaking yet, but I am taking extraordinary precautions with it.

    I was a little shocked at the customer-contentious attitude, because I have never, ever had problems with items of any kind that I have brought back to Walmart before–and never have had an argument with any Walmart employee anywhere, ever.

    It had occurred to me that I should try another pharmacy, but the local Walgreens is my other alternative, and your experience is giving me second thoughts about using them.

    I have been told that the old tube cannot be passed to another customer, so my only solace is that somebody somewhere in the chain at Walmart, is eating $219.

  9. Jim Cooley says:

    Kindle3 e-ink is a vast improvement over previous versions. I’ve been using the 3-G keyboard models since day 1. Had to send the latest K3 back because the dull yellow lettering wore off the graphite grey buttons. Some designer should be shot — for a device that touts readability, the contrast was deplorable to begin with. Even the font size is too small for the buttons.

    “But it looks pretty!” Sheesh, I see this kind of crap all the time. It’s Jobs’ influence, and streams like effluvia almost exclusively from the Bay Area. Yes, he and Apple did get some design right (or very right), but many of his disciples have forgotten Louis Sullivan’s maxim that form follows function.

  10. Jim Cooley says:

    Chuck, tubes like that are filled from the crimp upside down, so there’s invariably an air bubble at the bottom which expands in your hand to gush the contents out on first opening. (I’ve learned this the hard way, too).

    What I do before I open one is knot some string or dental floss around the cap before piercing the tube and swirl it around violently to let centrifugal force push the contents to the bottom crimp where it belongs. Probably works best when warm and semi-liquid.

  11. brad says:

    Wishing Barbara a speedy recovery!

    My son has an e-ink reader (a Sony, I think), and I found the contrast very poor when compared to the backlit display on my phone. So I have downloaded the Kindle application for my phone. For what it’s worth, the free reading application available for Android has a much better user interface. Of course, it doesn’t have access to the DRM-protected books you buy from Amazon; they updated their DRM over the summer, so that the old Calibre plugin can no longer break it. Which is a shame, because I much prefer the other application.

    As a result, I am also (again) annoyed at copyright, and the greediness of publishers. When I own a book in paper form, but want to have the ebook, it is more than offensive to find the ebook price to be double or triple what I paid for the physical book.

    More, some books that I would like to have are decades old; the authors are long dead. There is no excuse for this material not being in the public domain.

  12. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Well, my own attitude is that copyright, if we must have it, should be for a term no longer than one year.

  13. Peter Thomas says:

    @Brad: You might want to follow the comments on Apprentice Alf’s blog –>

  14. ech says:

    Did Barbara have a total knee? My mom has had two done and had 2 weeks in hospital, being hooked up to a torture knee flex machine several times per day. Of course she was 70 for the first one and not a youngster like Barbara is.

  15. OFD says:

    Best wishes from sunny (lately!!!) northern Vermont for Barbara and your dealings with pharmacists; yeah that devil-may-care attitude woulda rattled me a bit, too.

    And also cool of Leo to flog your kits; we enjoyed watching his TechTV show a few years ago when it was on; why it went away we don’t know and it pissed us off. It was fun and enjoyable and they gave Linux a push when it counted.

  16. Miles_Teg says:

    I’m quite happy with my Kindle (not sure what model it is) although 99.9% of what I look at is text.

  17. Miles_Teg says:

    “Well, my own attitude is that copyright, if we must have it, should be for a term no longer than one year.”

    I’m sure Jefferson would have agreed with my proposal for 10-20 years. The final appeal against the greedy copyright holders to a flute riff based on something written in 1934 has been lost, so Men at Work have to pay the copyright holders a cut. Not as much as they asked for but too much nevertheless.

  18. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    I’m sure Jefferson would have agreed with my proposal for 10-20 years.

    I’m sure he wouldn’t have. Jefferson was strongly opposed to having copyrights and patents at all, as am I. He reluctantly agreed to “limited” terms as part of the political negotiations.

  19. Miles_Teg says:

    I’ve never seen an explanation as to how IP could continue to be created on a large scale without laws to protect it. Back when independently wealthy people had hobbies as writers and inventers it could work, but why would a person or company sink a lot of money and time into developing something that could be knocked off as soon as it could be reverse engineered?

  20. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Greg, you’re focusing on just one side of the equation. Yes, everything you create is immediately in the public domain (unless you manage to keep it secret), but everything *everyone else* creates is also in the public domain.

    Just imagine where science would be if scientists didn’t publish their results. Just imagine the wasted effort and needless duplication. That’s what copyright and patents give us. The costs of copyrights and patents are far, far higher than the benefits of information being free.

  21. Chuck Waggoner says:

    Greg, you keep saying that no one will create without patents and copyrights, but I think you will find that inventors and IP creators very seldom get money for their efforts, beyond a salary. Just because you cannot imagine that IP would be created if not protected, does not mean it would not be. Heck, Nick Scipio writes some of the higher class porn er, erotic literature around and gets nothing for it. There are lots and LOTS of people writing out there, who never even recover minimum wage for their efforts, but they keep writing.

    Fact is, I have known MANY inventors of items that were patented, whose works were assigned to the companies they worked for, and they got NOTHING but a salary for their efforts. The company got everything. One guy devised a significant improvement related to hot rolling steel, and the company lawyers met him at the door when he finished the device. It became used the world over. Same with my Sunday School teacher, who invented the pneumatic automatic door opener—first used in grocery stores (you have to be over 50 to remember those). The patent went to his company. He then went to work for another company and promptly invented the “air door” (air forced from ceiling through floor grating at the entrance) and his new company took that patent, too (that was here in Tiny Town). Woolworth, JJ Newberry, and WT Grant used the air door in most of their stores in the US when I was a kid.

    Why have patents when only corporate entities—who invented nothing—are the ones who profit? I know the guy who was one of 3 who invested Saran Wrap. They got nothing; the company got everything. I also know the guy who invented that plastic holder that ties together 6-packs of aluminum cans. He got a salary, even though it was patented and now used universally throughout the world.

    We don’t need patents or copyrights for society to advance. Look at drug companies. They have managed to maximize profits from patents to an extreme. But what did they do in view of that? They slashed R&D on IP to next to nothing, compared to 50 years ago. Patents and copyrights do not guarantee a flow of IP. In fact, it might even encourage the reverse.

  22. Chuck Waggoner says:

    Netflix needs new top management—and quick! Today they announced—apparently—a complete reversal of everything they have changed in the last few months, except the price increases.

    Qwikster is dead. But the damage is done, IMO. The company has been savaged by both customers and stock investors on a massive scale.

  23. Stu Nicol says:

    Regarding Kindle:

    My public library loans out ebooks as if they were paper:{CE1D9A18-51FF-48CB-AC21-79DBCA36C1E9}

    How much public domain is that?

    Now that one comes in the epub format:
    I use Calibre (donationware) to convert to MOBI format:
    then I use my * email account to convert the MOBI to the AZW format.

    No Kindle 4 for me. At 20 pounds my Boston Terrier puppy has never knocked my Kindle out of my hands when he jumped on my chest.

  24. Stu Nicol says:

    Regarding Kindle:

    My public library “loans” ebooks as they do paper books:{CE1D9A18-51FF-48CB-AC21-79DBCA36C1E9}

    That one is in the epub format and I use the donationware Calibre to convert to MOBI format:

    Which can be attached and sent to my Kindle email account to be wi-fi’d back to my Kindle in AZW format. *

    Lastly, my current Kindle need not be replaced as my 20# Boston Terrier has yet to knock it out of my hands when jumping on my chest.

  25. Miles_Teg says:

    You both make some good points about patents, but as to guys working for salary, they get salary whether they produce something patentable or not. All the code and documentation I’ve written since 1980 belongs to my employer, I can’t copyright any of it, because I was on salary. If people want to profit from the IP they create they can do it on their own time, not the company’s.

  26. Chuck Waggoner says:

    Who knew this scene would get so much play?

  27. Chuck Waggoner says:

    This was within easy walking distance of where we first lived after moving to Berlin.

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