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Xrayser: Beware of patients wielding mobile phone pictures

"One patient gleefully announced: 'Look i photographed the blood!'"

Patients have been showing Xrayser images of their minor ailments even more disturbing than pictures of genitals

The pharmacy phone rang, and it was the team doctor from a local sports ground. He wasn’t happy. He was phoning to complain about my treatment of one of his players.

The doctor said: “This young man ran out of his sertraline, as he was about to fly off for a match abroad. Although he showed you the photograph of my private script that said to call me if there are any problems, you just sent him away. Now, anxiety and depression is a serious condition and I don’t think it’s good to stop a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor abruptly…”

At this point I stopped the doctor abruptly to recount how I had told his patient I couldn’t dispense against a tiny picture of a private script on his phone. I explained that this fully grown adult didn’t then divulge the need for an emergency supply, which I would have made without a script. We ended the conversation with the good doctor agreeing his patient could’ve avoided an own goal by being more communicative, and me learning the need to interrogate any person waving a picture on their phone at me. Little did I know that later that day I’d learn to do quite the opposite.

A few hours later, in came another man, phone in hand. “I keep getting nosebleeds,” he began. Upon the usual questioning there seemed no red flags of a need to refer. But this didn’t satisfy the patient, who gleefully announced: “Look, I photographed the blood!” and proceeded to show me several pictures of a towel and bowl into which he had collected the results of his epistaxis. Considering this gross in the nauseating sense, but not by way of volume, I reassured him and sent him on his way with instructions to show his GP – or basically anyone other than me – should it occur several times again.

Barely another two hours had passed when I was shown another photograph that should have come with the warning “contains scenes some viewers may find distressing”. It started simply enough, with a guy picking up a script for doxycycline and fluticasone nasal drops. He asked: “Will these clear my sinuses? Only they’ve been pretty bad for several weeks and all the other antibiotics were useless. Do you think this needs antibiotics..?” and before I had a chance to reach for the buccal prochlorperazine, he whipped out his phone to show me a photo of undoubtedly purulent creamy-brown phlegm, not caught in a bowl or hanky, but filling his hand and dripping through his fingers.

So now my learning from today is that you might think the most foul and disgusting thing a man can do with a smartphone is to send a penis picture, but to colleagues everywhere let me give you this warning: That patient clutching their mobile who asks to speak to the pharmacist could be about to show you something much, much worse.

A long-running C+D contributor, the identity of Xrayser remains a mystery, but his irreverent views are known by all. Tweet him @Xrayser

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