Thursday, July 06, 2006

A Comedy of Errors: My Latest Rx

This is another long story, so bear with me...

First, some background information: every month, I have to pick up my Oxycodone prescription at my doctor's office. It cannot be faxed or called in, and no one else can pick it up for me. So no matter how badly I feel, or how hot it is outside, I must come and pick the prescription up at the doctor's office, then turn it into the pharmacy...who then must call the doctor's office to make sure the prescription is legit.

In order for the prescription to be there waiting for me, I have to call the Prescription Coordinator and leave her a voice mail. Every month, it's the same message: "Hi, it's Zen Angel again. I need to pick up my monthly Oxycodone prescription. Please call me when it's ready to be picked up. Thank you."

Here's where it starts to get prickly: there are a lot of problems with this current system. I can only get the prescription if I call ahead at no more than one week before I need it to be filled (the first of every month), and I cannot call on weekends. If I call earlier than one week, my message is pretty much ignored. If I call too late, I will generally have to call back several times before it's ready. The main problem is, I'm never sure what "too late" or "too early" is. I've been ignored at 6 days before the first, and had to call repeatedly at four days. At least three times out of every five times I call, the Coordinator's voice mail box is full, and the receptionists will not forward any messages to her directly. Every month, it's a crap shoot. I might get the prescription on time, and then again, I might not.

The worst part about this scenario is that with the current amount of Oxycodone I get a month, I run out the last week. I've tried stretching them out, but that means I am miserable all month long, instead of just one week out of the month. So I chose the lesser of two evils. But by the time the first rolls around, I am usually more than ready to get that refill.

Now, the Comedy of Errors....

I made my call 5 days before the prescription needed to be filled, mindful of the fact that the first was on a Saturday and it was 4th of July weekend. I get the call on Thursday that my prescription is ready for me to pick up. On Friday, we head out to the doctor's. Jonathan and the kids wait outside while I run in to get the prescription. This is usually a five-minute process, while I wait in line, show my ID, and check to be sure the prescription is correct.

I wait in line. I show my ID. I check the prescription...and there's a problem. Three, to be precise.

First of all, the prescription is dated for July 2nd, a day late. This would normally not be a problem, but July 2nd was a Sunday. No doctors to confirm. That means I would have to wait until Monday to drop it off, and with the holiday, there was no telling when I would get my medicine. I'd had a particularly bad time with pain recently, and the thought of waiting three or four days or more to get the medication was unpleasant in the extreme.

The second problem was with the date itself. Someone had scribbled over the date, re-wrote it, and then wrote it again underneath the "date" line. It looked very much as if someone had tampered with the prescription. There was no way the pharmacy was going to fill that.

The third problem was a note written on the bottom of the prescription: "Patient must find new PCP for next month's Rx". WTF? Did that mean my doctor was gone, or was I being dropped like a hot potato? No one had said anything to me about needing a new doctor!

I show the faulty prescription to the receptionist and explain my problems. She handed the paper over to the Prescription Coordinator (whom I have never met in person until then) to handle the problem.

With problem #1, the Coordinator tries to convince me that the 2nd is the correct date. No ma'am, I always get my pills on the first. She checks my chart, and sees that I am right. I also then point out to her that the 2nd is a Sunday, meaning it would be the 3rd or even the 5th before I was able to have the thing filled. She asks me if I want the prescription re-written. I say yes, and point out problem #2. This problem seems to irritate her. "Yes, I know about the scribbles, that's why she wrote the date underneath." That's all well and good, but there's no way I can get that filled, not for opiates! I looked like the original date had been Feb. 06 and not July 06. So she takes the prescription back to a doctor to get it re-written. I go out to the car to tell Jonathan what the hold-up is. He brings the kids inside out of the heat.

20 minutes go by before the Coordinator returns with my prescription. This also would normally not be a problem, but the air conditioning at the office is either not turned on or not working. Bad news for heat-reactive me.

When she brings out the new prescription, the note for a new doctor is still there, so I inquire. It turns out the Well-Accessoried Doctor is no longer with the clinic. I have no idea when this occured, because this is the first I'm hearing about it. I need to call the clinic and get a new PCP, I was told.

That actually might be a cloud with a silver lining for me, as I've been considering seeing a DO for some time now. It was only my good rapport with the Well-Accessoried Doctor that was keeping me at the clinic.

But I digress. You see, the Comedy of Errors is just beginning.

On the way back from the clinic, we go through the pharmacy drive-through and drop off the prescription. We are told to return tommorow morning to pick it up. No problem!

Saturday morning arrives. I have had a horrible night, dealing with pain. I have yet to sleep. Jonathan wakes up as soon as the pharmacy opens, to get me some relief.

He arrives to find the pharmacy is...closed. For the entire day.

He gets out of the car and goes in to find the manager. It appears the head pharmacist is getting married, and the assistant pharmacist is "sick." The manager has no keys to the pharmacy and cannot even get our original prescription back for us so we can go to another pharmacy. Had it been any other kind of medication, it would be in the computer and we could go to another pharmacy in the chain...but that isn't how it works with Oxycodone. You have to turn over the paper prescription, or it's a no-go.

It takes almost an hour before the manager has any advice for Jonathan. During this time, Jonathan is sitting inside the pharmacy in a white t-shirt and his Snoopy pajama pants (remember, he thought all he had to do was go through the drive-through). He is relieved when the manager tells him they have found a solution: a pharmacist who sometimes works at this pharmacy, but usually at another (hereafter referred to
as Pharmacy #2), will come in, unlock the door, and get the prescription. He will then take it to Pharmacy #2, fill it, and give it to us. Jonathan is told to return home and the pharmacist will call him when it is all done.

After waiting two hours, Jonathan calls Pharmacy #2. He is told that our presciption is not filled, and not on the premises. Baffled, Jonathan (dressed appropriately this time) heads out to Pharmacy #2.

The pharmacist tells Jonathan where the mix-up occured: another patient at Pharmacy #1 also needed a painkiller refill. The pharmacist had only been told about one prescription, so when he arrived at Pharmacy #1 and spoke with the other patient, he assumed that was the prescription that needed to be filled, and took only that one with him. Until my husband had called, and the pharmacist had checked the with manager of Pharmacy #1, the pharmacist had not been aware of our situation.

So now Jonathan returns to Pharmacy #1 to speak to the manager and find out what went wrong and what can be done to fix it. The manager makes a lot of frenzied phone calls, and finally a new solution has come up: the pharmacist from Pharmacy #2 would take a break, come to Pharmacy #1 and pick up the prescription, then go back to Pharmacy #2 and fill it.

This time, Jonathan decides to wait around until the pharmacist shows up so as to avoid the same situation from occuring again. He was also mindful of the time: he had to be at work in a matter of hours.

Finally, the pharmacist arrives. And instead of making Jonathan go to Pharmacy #2, he just fills the prescription right there and hands it over. Why no one thought of this in the first place is beyond me.

And so, a mere five hours after I was supposed to get the prescription, my Oxycodone finally makes it home. Relief!

I wonder what will happen NEXT month...

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At 8:22 PM, Anonymous Lexi said...

Hi! As a TN sufferer, I've been periodically checking your blog. Oh my! I am so sorry you had to go through all that @@@@! Thank goodness you were able to get your Oxy. Your hubbie sounds like a very patient and supportive spouse! The snoppy pants description was a great visual and made me smile. Take care!

At 1:42 PM, Blogger AGFH said...

Your husband is a wonderful person!
It's a shame it's not as easy to get Oxy as it is to get Vicoden. I turnded my husbands Vic perscription over after both surgeries and they handed me the pills with no questions asked.

At 8:52 AM, Blogger mdmhvonpa said...

Hmmm, when is Jonathan going for his saint-hood?

At 3:55 PM, Blogger Angel said...

It is absolutely CRIMINAL the hoops they make you jump through to get your meds!! There's a special place in hell for all these red-tape bureaucrats.

I'm glad you finally got your meds! I see a DO, and it's not perfect, but she isn't too bad (and better than my last 2 docs).


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