Try to be a *productive* nuisance next time

Scenario: Person calls up to see if their doctor has responded to the refill request that was sent the day before. We’re going on 24 hours and still we’ve not heard back from the prescriber. (Oh, the horror!)

That first phonecall is okay. But then there’s the second. And the third. And sometimes the eighth.

“WHY HASN’T MY DOCTOR CALLED YOU YET??”

How in the seven hells should I know, lady? Yes, it is almost invariably women that ask this question; men, in general, seem to be more interesting in getting to the root of the problem than complaining about it. (Insert off-topic discussion about gender differences here.)

I DO know one thing, though. If you’ve called us twice, and your doctor hasn’t gotten back to us, and it’s been 24 hours, and oh my god you will absolutely die if you don’t get your simvastatin five minutes ago, you need to start calling the right person. The gatekeeper. The person who — hold onto your socks now — writes your bloody prescription.

I am not your goddamn therapist.

I don’t understand the mental disconnect between dialing the pharmacy versus dialing the doctor’s office. Is it because you’re calling a retail establishment where someone actually answers the phone? Somehow I think the answer is YES. In the last two days, I have waited on hold with a doctor’s office for 10 minutes or longer six times. One of those times was actually 23 minutes(!).

But back to consumer idiocy for a moment: Pharmacies are not required to do refill requests for you. There’s no law saying “Pharmacist must request refills for patient upon request.” It’s just something that’s done as a service to remain competitive with the other retail pharmacy outlets. Way back in the day — before unlimited long-distance phone service — many pharmacies would add the price of that telephone call into the cost of the prescription. Back before there were third parties. The average person would shit a brick today if that was done. (Back in the Good Ol’ Days, there was also the Asshole Tax, which I’d like to reinstate for the habitual offenders.)

Newsflash: the pharmacist doesn’t decide whether or not to refill a prescription — we’d LOVE to fill it for you because you’re being a pain in the ass, and it’ll get you off our back. Not to mention that mo’ scripts = mo’ money. Maybe sometime down the road, when s/he has access to complete medical records and lab results, a one-time refill ability will be within the pharmacist’s scope of practice. But as of now, it’s not.

So why don’t you go bother the person with that authority?

And incidentally, if you’re a provider, I’m not particularly interested in why your customers — yes, customers — wait on hold for eons before they get to talk to someone. I don’t care how busy you are. I don’t care how busy your office staff are. I don’t care that it takes you an hour to get a diagnostic test approved. I don’t care that your reimbursement rates are declining, and gee wouldn’t it be nice if you could bill for time wasted on the friggin telephone.*

I AM interested in not being the cathartic outlet for your patients’ frustration at you and your office’s inadequacy.

…I totally just went there, didn’t I? Feel free to vent your frustrations at and about pharmacists and pharmacies in the comments — and yes, this post was very cathartic. bigdumbgrin You know I still love all of you. smile.gif

* Actually, I do care quite a bit about that. Just not within this context.

4 thoughts on “Try to be a *productive* nuisance next time

  1. As the last doctor in the world whose office phone is answered by a person, let me say that I don’t understand what all those other offices gain by not answering it. They’re going to have to pick up and talk sooner or later. Why piss everyone off first?

  2. Ahmen! I cannot tell you how any times I have ranted the same exact rant. Then they ask me “How can you let this any days go by without contacting MY doctor about why he hasn’t approved MY refill?!”
    “Gee I dunno, guess I didn’t care as much as I might if it were MY refill”

    Please take a hint! I am waiting on hundreds of return calls from prescribers. I don’t police them on whether they auth refills or not. I do this as a courtesy to YOU. Whether or not your doc auth’s the refills is between YOU and HIM/HER.

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