Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Stranger Things Have Happened

Longtime readers of ZPT are well aware of my problems with my clinic, particularly with the Rx Dick and the procedures involved with getting three of my prescriptions. For those readers, go ahead and skip to the red font. But if you're new here, here's some background:

Three of my prescriptions cannot be refilled like the others. All my other meds, I simply call or take in the bottle and get my prescription filled, or the pharmasist faxes my doctor's office and gets the refills authorized that way. But these three (Oxycodone, Methadone and Diazapam) don't work that way; the law requires a brand-new hard copy of the script every single month.

Getting this done has proven to be difficult. The office policy was for me to call 5-7 working days (not on weekends, this is prohibited on my pain management contract) and leave a message for the Rx Dick. The Rx Dick (in theory, mind you) would write up a note to the doctor requesting the meds. When that is sent to the doctor, the meds are now "pending." After the doctor approves them, the Rx Dick calls your home (again, in theory) to let you know that the scripts are waiting for you at the front desk. You then go to the office, get an envelope with your name on it, check the scripts to make sure they are correct, show your ID and sign for the scripts. Finally, you take it to the pharmacy to be filled.

Sound simple?

It's not.

I get my scripts on the first of the month. Rather, I'm supposed to get them, but this system has more holes than a collander. The majority of the time, when I call to leave the message for the Rx Dick, the voice mail is full. The receptionists refuse to take messages for him, and if you try to speak to your doctor's PA or nurse, they refer you back to the Rx Dick.

One of the reasons the voice mail gets clogged for days is that on top of being the prescription coordinator, he's also the clinic radiologist. If that sounds bizarre to you, you're not the only one.

When you do finally get the message sent, you are told it will take at least two days. This rarely happens. Whatever you do, though, you don't want to call and check up on the status until day three, because you will get chastised by anyone and everyone you speak to on the subject.

Finally, the Rx Dick rarely if ever calls you to tell you your scripts are waiting to be picked up, leaving you to call every morning and afternoon for days, even a week or more. The receptionists are often annoyed by these calls and by being forced to look on the computer to see if you're still "pending" or if they are at the desk waiting for you. You can leave a message on the Rx Dick's voice mail, but even if it isn't full he's very unlikely to call back.

When there is a holdup, the Rx Dick will not contact you to let you know what's going on. The receptionists will not be told, so they have no information to give you. Your doctor and their PAs and nurses have nothing to do with the presciption refills process, so there's no point in enlisting their help (they will just refer you back to the Rx Dick anyway).

I go through this every month. At least, I used to.

A few months ago, the office changed their policy. There is no more Rx Dick (he's still there, as radiologist). Now, you must call the receptionist 3-5 working days ahead and have THEM send the "note" to the doctors. And then again, you call and you call, hoping that your meds are ready for you before you run out (and run out I have, more than once).

Now when I call, I have to explain to the receptionist why their immediate response of, "Just have your pharmacy fax the request to the office" won't work. The law requires my having a hard copy every time. This annoys many of them. All you can do is cross your fingers and hope they send up a "note" in a speedy manner with the right meds requested.

Yesterday, I made the dreaded phone call. I had tried the day before, only to have the annoyed receptionist snap at me and tell me that it "isn't three days prior yet." Gee, I'd been told 3-5 days, but whatever. I made the call yesterday, and prepared to go over the whole rigamorale all over again.

The phone call went like this:


ME: Hi, my name is Angel, and I need to make a request for three hard copy prescription refills.(bracing myself to have to explain)

RECEPTIONIST: Oh, yes, I see in your chart! By the way, my name is "Norene", and I'm the new office manager. Would you mind staying on the line while I write and send the note?

ME: (surprised) Yes, of course.

NORENE: (over the sound of the computer typing) Request for these three prescriptions, request that attending sign if prescribing doctor is unable, send. There! All ready.

ME: (shocked at the added request, as I usually have to beg and plead for that eventuality) Thank you so much.

NORENE: Now, could you do something for me? Could you call tomorrow and check on the status, make sure it's moving along so they'll be ready for you to pick up Friday?

ME: (completely, utterly stunned, as making such a call in the past led me to be lectured, snubbed or oraly bitchslapped) Sure, I can do that. No problem. Thank you so much!

NORENE: Well, thank you. And if you have any problems, you just ask for me, Norene. OK?

ME: (not sure I'm awake, as this must be a dream) OK. Thank you again.

NORENE: Have a nice day!

ME: You, too.

I hung up the phone and stared at it. Did that just happen?

Has the Rx Dick been replaced in my life by Nice Norene?

I have no idea what will happen when I call today. Lecture? Rudeness? Or more Nice Norene?

I'll keep you posted...

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