Skip to main content

Medications Are A Bitter Pill Of the Workplace

If you tuned into MSNBC's Morning Joe last week, you might have caught Tom Brokaw acting a little bit...well, a little bit drunk. Let's go to the videotape, because we can!

It turns out Brokaw wasn't high on life or anything else. No, he had made a basic mistake while taking his morning medications. Instead of taking an aspirin, he took a sleeping pill. Then he went to work, which just happens to be on national television.

Brokaw called his medicinal mix-up a cautionary tale. I call it a bitter pill of the workplace. We feel for you, Tom, because many an average employee has messed up while taking his or her medicines on the way to work. If only we could put a price tag on all of the lost productivity, then we'd probably be able to pay off our national debt.

There are a lot of ways to arrive at a medicinal mix-up. Like Brokaw, you might take the wrong pill. You meant to take one pill, but took a Viagra instead. Ooops! I guess it's safe to say you'll be late for work today.

Maybe you take your medication in the immediate midst of your morning stupor, then wonder 30 minutes later if you took your medicine. Did I, or didn't I? You don't use a pill box so you can't remember, and now you're standing there staring at the prescription bottle, wondering what to do. Do I take it again, or not? Maybe you do take it again, only to realize as the medicine kicks in that, yes indeed-ee, you've taken it already. Now you get to spend the rest of the day getting a lift higher than President Obama got in Florida over the weekend.

Perhaps your medications are cohabitating with those of your significant other in a cabinet or on top of the refrigerator. Man, all those bottles can look the same bathed in the light of the nightlight, can't they? You meant to take two Ibuprofen tablets but instead took two Oxycodone pills, the prescription painkiller your loved one is taking temporarily following a surgical procedure. Boom goes the dynamite! I hope you don't operate heavy machinery on the job.

You might be halfway to work when you realize you forgot to take your medicine, and you can't get through your day without it. So you turn around and pull up quick to retrieve it. I hope you don't commute by bus, train or carpool van.

The thing is, these simple medicinal mix-ups can happen to any working adult, no matter our age, because we all need prescription medications on occasion or always if we're managing some sort of permanent medical condition. But to quote the philosopher P!nk, instead of making me better, you're making me ill. And potentially less productive at work, or sick.

Admitting a medicinal mix-up can be very embarrassing for employees, who may not want to reveal to their co-workers that they (1) made a dumb mistake; and (2) rely on prescription medications, even if only temporarily. So they either call in sick, or come to work anyway. What can be done about this workplace problem? There's always the traditional pill box, just take more care to load it correctly if you take multiple medications. Store your medications where you can see them first thing in the morning (or evening, depending on when you take them). You might also get in the habit of putting a check on a calendar as soon as you take your medications so you don't have any "did I, or didn't I?" moments.

There are also dozens of links to handy online tips about how to take your medicine. These links are worth reading, because we don't have Mary Poppins to remind us. In every job there is an element of fun, find the fun, and snap! The job's a game! And every task you take becomes a piece of cake! Unless you take an Ambien by mistake.

Thanks to Tom Brokaw for slurring his way to national awareness regarding what may well be an under-diagnosed and all-too-common workplace safety issue. I think we'll all sleep a little bit better now.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Seven tips for dealing with a jealous coworker

Look at you, doing so well at work! We're so happy for you. Well, most of us are happy for you and refuse to spend the entire work day talking behind your back. Let's talk about how to handle our jealous co-workers!Like every other professional, you've no doubt experienced your share of failures and successes. Lately, however, things seem to be going your way at work. And how! Perhaps you've managed to ace an important project this quarter, been instrumental in landing a huge client, earned some well-deserved rewards for this and that, or -- egads! -- been given a slight promotion or additional work responsibilities (e.g., the work responsibilities you actually want).You're quietly chuffed, but somehow your co-workers seem none too pleased with this rapid turn of events. Oh no, what should you do now?It's a workplace tale older than the disjointed last season of Mad Men. The playing field in the department was even, cozy and overall very friendly -- until so-an…

Employees Blame Technology For Slowing Them Down At Work

Do you feel like you're always working, but never getting very much done? If so, you're not alone. Too much technology, and too much red tape, keep slowing us down at work. But technology, and more of it, is supposed to make our lives easier! Too much technology, however, does not compute for employees. A new SAP/Knowledge@Wharton survey of almost 700 corporate employees finds a full 60% of respondents blame technology "for inhibiting their ability to meet strategic goals." Gee, anyone who has ever used the self-checkout line at the grocery store can tell you that. However, 40% surveyed said that looking for ways to simplify the technology has been "a low priority" for their company. Too much paperwork is an on-going problem for the workplace, too. A new ServiceNow survey of nearly 1,000 managers finds that 90% are doing too much administrative work, no matter the size of the company. This paperwork includes filling out forms, writing status updates, …

Is Your Co-worker Always Late For Work?

You've started the workday, but where is your co-worker? Oh, she's running late again, just like yesterday. And the day before. And the day before that. Let's get an early start on solving her tardiness problem, shall we? Working with someone who is consistently late is one of the most annoying aspects of office life, and also one of the most common, unfortunately. It's a universal theme of the workplace that everyone will get to work on time (give or take a few minutes...) except for the employee who is egregiously late nearly every day. And the excuses can get pretty amazing. Employees became more punctual as the Great Recession lingered, at least according to surveys. Everyone, that is, except for your able-bodied but habitually-tardy co-worker. It's bad enough dealing with tardiness when you're a manager, but it can be even more frustrating when you're a rank-and-file peer without any magical "shape up or ship out" managerial powers. So you…