In this article we welcome Patients Rising moderator and advocate, Karen Kaiser, “The Muslim Hippie”. Karen shares her emblematic experiences as a disabled patient (usually) getting prescriptions filled on time. Here’s Karen….
As a patient living with multiple chronic, mental and physical illnesses, it’s a challenge getting prescriptions filled on time each month. Not getting medication on time can be anywhere from inconvenient to downright dangerous. And there are certain issues that present as problems over and over again.
How the Prescription is Written
One issue faced by people is how the doctor chooses to fill the prescription; monthly or every 90 days. Each option means you have to keep track of your meds and remember when you last filled them so you can keep up with the script schedule.
If you have an attentive pharmacist, they are probably staying on top of this with you. But for most patients, trusting that the pharmacy will have your back is not a safe choice.
Delays at the Pharmacy
Due to Covid and social-distancing procedures, getting your meds can take twice as long as it did in the past. And calling ahead to your pharmacy can be daunting. Pharmacy staff are often overwhelmed by in-person customers and others on-hold on phone lines. In the end, everyone waits longer. It’s understandable, but frustrating.
If you don’t have a relationship with your pharmacist and you end up experiencing delays, shop around. You might find the ‘mom and pop’ pharmacy that accepts your insurance and has shorter lines.
E-FILING, the not-so-great timesaver
Some doctors choose to e-file your scripts, something designed to save time. However, my lived experience is that this ultimately ends up in longer wait times at the pharmacy. Either they didn’t get the order, or the order is filed incorrectly, and you end up having to call your doctor anyway.
The goal should be to minimize stress. Pharmacies and pharmacy benefit managers need to remember, those who need precriptions regulary are already dealing with a lot. Don’t bog them down in minutiae and red tape.
The Patient’s Burden
Patients who take multiple medications often need pill minders and med calendars to help monitor monthly intake of medicines. Without such tools, it can get confusing – Why do I have 2 extra pills? Why did I run out 3 days early? It’s not too hard to find phone apps to help with this.
One tip given to me by a local pharmacist is to keep all of my empty pill bottles each month (in a safe case). This way I have the dates when the scripts were last filled and any necessary med information needed to get my refills.
Do you have problems getting your prescriptions filled on time? You can always ask questions, at the pharmacy, at your doctor’s office, and whenever you feel you need more information. Getting your medicine shouldn’t be confusing.
Here are some resources from Patients Rising Now to help you understand the policies affecting the pharmacy counter
Karen Kaiser is an advocate from the Washington, DC area. In the past she has been a teacher and a CNA-DT. As well as a volunteer for Crisis Text Line. Karen is a voice for the bipolar community along with those with OCD, anxiety, psychosis, and chronic illnesses. She has recently started advocating for those with narcolepsy and cataplexy.