From a Specialty Pharmacy Liaison: Last Monday I lost my first patient here at the hospital oncology clinic. I first got to know the patient, her husband and daughter a few months ago with her initial diagnosis and first round of treatment.
The last time I saw the patient’s husband he was pacing around the parking lot waiting for phone calls while his wife was in treatment. When he eventually came into the clinic I asked what was going on. He told me the doctor said the family had to make a decision that day. He was waiting for his kids to call back to make sure they were on their way down to the office. He explained that his wife wasn’t responding well to the chemo treatments and was incoherent. She couldn’t keep her eyes open and she had developed an infection.
Their choices were to put her into the hospital and treat the infection, let her get a little stronger, and then try chemo all over again. Or they should call hospice for end-of-life care. After telling me this he took a phone call from his son.
I could hear the patient’s husband and his children crying as they walked down the hallway. I was later told that they had chosen hospice. All of this happened on a Friday and the patient passed away the following Monday. She had just retired, was planning to enjoy life with her husband, and was hit immediately with the diagnosis.
The following Monday her husband called to say thank you for everything my pharmacy team had done for his wife and family. All of the prior authorizations, financial assistance, appointment coordination and emotional support helped his family navigate an impossibly complex situation. The fact that he even remembered to call me after everything had just happened was so touching. It reminded me that everything we do is for patients and their loved ones, no matter what happens with insurance providers, drug manufacturers, providers or with any extenuating circumstances. Patients and their families see us much more than a medication dispensary. We are definitely making a difference in their lives.