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Why That Prescription Takes So D**N Long to Fill And Why It’s Not Your Pharmacist’s Fault, After All

I’m not a pharmacist in real life – I just write about them in this blog. I understand the issues that affect them from a layman’s point of view and must confess that when I go to the pharmacy I get just as impatient as everybody else. So, for all of us who just can’t understand why we have to wait so long to have a prescription filled (after all, how long can it take to put some pills in a bottle?) my fellow blogger DrugMonkey, Master of Pharmacy, offers the following explanation:

 Your Pharmacist May Hate You – the answer as to why your prescription takes so damn long to fill…and evidence of how drugstore workday life warps the mind.

 You come to the counter. I am on the phone with a drunk dude who wants the phone number to the grocery store next door. After I instruct him on the virtues of 411, you tell me your doctor was to phone your prescription in to me. Your doctor hasn’t, and you’re unwilling to wait until he does. Being in a generous mood, I call your doctor’s office and I am put on hold for five minutes, then informed that your prescription was phoned in to my competitor on the other side of town. Phoning my competitor, I am immediately put on hold for five minutes before speaking to the clerk, who puts me back on hold to wait for the pharmacist. Your prescription is then transferred to me, and now I have to get the two phone calls that have been put on hold while this was being done. Now I return to the counter to ask if we’ve ever filled prescriptions for you before. For some reason you think that “for you” means “for your cousin” and you answer my question with a “yes”, whereupon I go to the computer and see you are not on file.

 The phone rings.

 You have left to do something very important, such as browse through the monster truck magazines, and do not hear the three PA announcements requesting that you return to the pharmacy. You return eventually, expecting to pick up the finished prescription…

 The phone rings.

 …only to find out that I need to ask your address, phone number, date of birth, if you have any allergies and insurance coverage. You tell me you’re allergic to codeine. Since the prescription is for Vicodin, I ask you what exactly what the codeine did to you when you took it. You say it made your stomach hurt and I roll my eyes and write down “no known allergies”. You tell me…

 The phone rings.

 …you have insurance and spend the next five minutes looking for your card. You give up and expect me to be able to file your claim anyway. I call my competitor and am immediately put on hold. Upon reaching a human, I ask what insurance they may have on file for you. I get the information and file the claim, which is rejected because you changed jobs six months ago. An asshole barges his way to the counter to ask where the bread is.

 The phone rings.

 I inform you that the insurance the other pharmacy has on file for you isn’t working. You produce a card in under ten seconds that you seemed to be unable to find before. What you were really doing is hoping that your old insurance would still work because it had a lower co-pay. Your new card prominently displays the logo of Nebraska Blue Cross, and although Nebraska Blue Cross does in fact handle millions of prescription claims every day, for the group you belong to, the claim should go to a company called Caremark, whose logo is nowhere on the card.

 The phone rings.

 A lady comes to the counter wanting to know why the cherry flavor antacid works better than the lemon cream flavored antacid. What probably happened is that she had a milder case of heartburn when she took the cherry flavored brand, as they both use the exact same ingredient in the same strength. She will not be satisfied though until I have confirmed her belief that the cherry flavored brand is the superior product. I file your claim with Caremark, who rejects it because you had a 30 day prescription for Vicodin filled at another pharmacy 15 days ago. You swear to me on your mother’s…

 The phone rings.

 …life that you did not have another Vicodin prescription filled recently. I call Caremark and am immediately placed on hold. The most beautiful woman on the planet walks by and notices not a thing. She has never talked to a pharmacist and never will. Upon reaching a human at Caremark, I am informed that the Vicodin prescription was indeed filled at another of my competitors. When I tell you this you say you got hydrocodone  there, not Vicodin. Another little part of me dies.

 The phone rings.

 It turns out that a few days after your doctor wrote your last prescription, he told you to take it more frequently, meaning that what Caremark thought was a 30 day supply was indeed a 15 day supply with the new instructions. I call your doctor’s office and am immediately put on hold. I call Caremark to get an override and am immediately placed on hold. My laser printer has a paper jam. It’s time for my pharmacy tech to go to lunch. Caremark issues the override and your claim goes through. Your insurance saves you 85 cents off the regular price of the prescription.

 The phone rings.

 At the cash register you sign…

 The phone rings.

 …that you received a copy of my HIPAA policy and that I offered the required OBRA counseling for new patients. You remark that you’re glad your last pharmacist told you you should’t take over-the-counter Tylenol along with the Vicodin, and that the acetaminophen you’re taking instead seems to be working pretty well. I break the news to you that Tylenol is simply a brand name for acetaminophen and you don’t believe me. You fumble around for two minutes for your checkbook and spend another two minutes writing out a check for four dollars and sixty-seven cents. You ask why the tablets look different than those you got at the other pharmacy. I explain that they’re from a different manufacturer. Tomorrow you’ll be back to tell me they don’t work as well.

 Now imagine that this wasn’t you at all, but the person who dropped off their prescription three people ahead of you, and you’ll start to have an idea why….your prescription takes so damn long to fill.

 (From this day forward I promise to give my pharmacist the benefit of the doubt and complain about my HMO instead! – cvh55)

About cvh55

Social networking (among other things) is my job at Apex Medical Placements, Inc., a pharmacist owned pharmacy recruiting and staffing company, matching pharmacy professionals with healthcare organizations. Being pharmacist owned we take a great interest in the pharmaceutical industry and making the best of it for the pharmacy professionals we place.


One thought on “Why That Prescription Takes So D**N Long to Fill And Why It’s Not Your Pharmacist’s Fault, After All

  1. Right on! Most of the time the professionals behind the counter continue to smile and still treat you like their only customer!

    Posted by Thomas Denton | March 3, 2011, 1:55 pm

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