Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Paper Chase

E-prescribing, faxing, and electronic transmission of prescriptions to pharmacies can be ultimately more efficient, and I suppose it's an advancement in patient care, BUT...... sometimes I just can't shake the thought that it's yet another way to relieve people of their own damn responsibility in this going-to-the-doctor thing.

Guy walks in and plops a bottle of prescription lotion on the counter. There is no prescription label on it. He wants a refill.

OK, everybody out there knows the drill, right? --- the detective work now begins (for which I have NO time and even less interest.) Making a very long story short here, he got it when he got out of the hospital in another part of the state. We did not fill it. He can only give us a vague approximation of the doctor's name. We look at his profile and make a crude guess as to who the doctor is from some of his other prescriptions (luckily, there's kind of a "sound alike" name on his profile.) Guy insists we call right then and there. Person on the other end says please fax a refill request. We do, and convince the guy to check back with us later. All other people waiting in line behind him are now very cranky.

Doctor's office calls back a couple hours later...."he was handed a prescription for that with refills. Please ask him for it." OK, fair enough, but we all know what comes next.

We call the guy..... he claims he does not have the prescription (at least, that's the gist of a phone call that again lasts WAY too long.) We fax the doctor's office back again. Later, guy calls back, apparently rifling through a stack of prescriptions he has now found. After keeping my tech on the phone even longer and asking her to tell him what each one is for, he now apparently discovers the prescription. The whole idea that he would need to BRING that IN to the pharmacy seems to irritate and puzzle him.

Total time spent on this entire odyssey: WAY WAY WAY too much.

It makes me furious when I find out that someone was given a prescription and that same person sends me on a wild goose chase because they don't get the whole "you bring THAT to your pharmacy and they fill it" idea.

Is this, like, a totally outdated thing now??


Grumpy, M.D. said...

Outdated, yes.

Still happens all the damn time, though.

Pharmacist Erin said...

Our customers have this glorious idea that they can read off their Rx to us and we'll fill it. Haha Sorry suckers.

Anonymous said...

Right with u on well as the patients who 1. Turn in the discharge papers and left the actual rx in the car or at home or 2. Military folk that don't have a clue how an ordinary retail pharmacy works. Augh!

Anonymous said...

Try this:

"Oh, I'm sorry. That medication requires a prescription. You'll need to call your doctor to have him or her give you a prescription for that medication. Or, he can fax us or call it in. What's that? You want us to call your doctor? You'll need to tell us his or her name. What's that? You don't know his or her name? Well, I don't, either. Tell you what--you think about it for a while, maybe go home and look over your paperwork and such, and you can call us or come back when you have his or her name because [point to the line behind the patient] as you can see we are extremely busy."

racheleh said...

Unfortunately not all pharmacies are competent.
In the space of a month I have had a pharmacy
a) Deny receipt of prescription phoned in by my Doctor's office.
b: Deny I am in their system even though I have 4 prescription bottles from their pharmacy.
c: 2 of those 4 with REFILLS still on them. Printed on the label.

yes its a start, but bringing a little piece of paper with some illegible scrawl on it is not always gonna get you any service.

pharmacy chick said...

we have docs in the area who write prescriptions on a regular basis for their patients, with exactly the number of refills til their next appointment (I know..just TOO organized). if we phone them for a refill they will simply deny it. "ask the patient for hardcopy given on 4-6 2010 or have patient contact our office". wow. just too simple. some learn right quick to keep track of their scripts..others?.....not so much!

Anonymous said...

Or there's the brilliant customer who was not aware that she had to bring her prescription insurance card to the pharmacy and would really appreciate it if i would have told her sooner because now she has to drive all the way back home to go get it. I am sooo sorry to inconvenience you!

The Redheaded Pharmacist said...

I wish everyone that actually thinks all we do at the pharmacy is count by 5s and put pills in a bottle would read this post. Maybe they would get a clue as to what really goes on at the pharmacy but I doubt it. I've dealt with some customers at work over the course of my career that made me wonder who dresses them in the morning because they don't seem to be able to do anything for themselves. Makes me want to shout out "do you expect me to wipe your ass after you use the bathroom too?" but I refrain.

Anonymous said...

been in pharmacy a while as many here..

a) happens all the time...always blamed on pharmacy, never on dr office..(if i had a nickle for every e-rx that got to us 2hrs after the pt..while the pt screams..i just saw them send it!! I'd retire rich!
b) 1st rule of thumb when they can't find your i go by another they have my given/nickname in the system? is it misspelled? check your bottle
c) rx's expire..that would be my 1st guess.. non-scheduled after 1 yr, scheduled after 6 months, even if you have refills left..after that time period, you gotta get a new one
d) they may all be incompetent..but I doubt the whole pharmacy would be, screws up the laws of averages..maybe there is a super-competent pharmacy next door..ha ha

Don said...

The funny thing is that my doctor's office apparently doesn't believe that people do still do that. Whenever I'm in and they are going to "write" me a prescription they don't really want to do that - they want the pharm's number so they can call/fax it in.

I appreciate the fact that for some people this might be better, but I'd rather have the slip of paper and be able to go to whatever pharm is convenient on a given day. Not to mention that I'd just as soon not have to hunt through my phone/address book looking for a number while in the office.

They always seem borderline put out when I want them to just print a scrip instead. I wonder how much of that is their desire to avoid revisiting these things with people who lose the paper copy, a la the story you just related?

Persephone's Maiden said...

This doesn't have anything to do with pharmacy but is on the same lines. I recently helped a 19 year old girl stamp and address an envelope to pay a bill. She didn't know how to write out an envelope and she didn't know what stamps were for. I know we live in the internet age but that was just too much for me.

Anonymous said...

Yeah? How about the woman who calls the pharmacy for us to give her a refill-for a drug her doctor gave her trial samples of before actually writing her an rx? Or the dude who wants me to give him a Rite Aid store brand cough medicine at a CVS? uhyg