Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Stupid Fax Machine

I swear that modern technology makes people brain dead...

The other day a patient brought us a prescription for Lipitor. However, the doctor completely forgot to write a dose on it. The patient had never been on Lipitor, so we couldn't even make an educated guess.

I called the office and left a message explaining that we needed the dosage and to give us a call back at the earliest convenience. Three hours later, a receptionist called back and asked what the problem was. Apparently my message, which explained the problem in detail, wasn't good enough, so once again I had to explain the incredibly difficult concept that we cannot properly fill a prescription without knowing the dosage.

"Can you fax the prescription to us?" the receptionist asked. She said she had to show the nursing staff the prescription, so they could understand what's wrong. I told her that I really thought it would be a whole lot easier if she just looked in the chart or asked someone what dosage we were supposed to fill. After a few sighs, the receptionist took my message and told me a nurse would call me back.

Several hours later, a nurse calls me back saying they've been waiting for me to fax the prescription to them this whole time and that they couldn't get anything done without getting the fax first. I was starting to get frustrated by the run around, and I started to explain how it would be a whole lot easier for them just to ask the doctor, but she cut me off. "Can you just fax it?"

Fine... I faxed the damn prescription to them. The rest of the day went by, and I never heard back from the office. The next morning, the patient called back to ask what the status was. Of course, we still hadn't heard, so I called the office back...

For those keeping score at home, just to obtain the dosage on a prescription we've so far gone through me calling the office, then the office calling me back, then the office calling me back again, then me faxing the script to the office, then the patient calling me, then me calling the office yet again.

Anyway, I was ready to lace into someone there for being a FUCKING MORON. I told the receptionist that we faxed the script to them just like they asked and still didn't get a response.

"Oh... Our fax machine isn't working at the moment. We'll call you back tomorrow."


If this was a one time thing I wouldn't be so exasperated over the whole thing. However, the fact that this kind of shit happens all the time drives me fucking insane. Seriously... How fucking difficult would it have been for a nurse to go tap the doctor on the shoulder, "Hey doc, you didn't write a dosage on this prescription. What dose was it supposed to be?"

Would that have been that difficult? Really? It would have taken 5 minutes tops. Instead, we're going on 72 hours without an answer for which strength of Lipitor to dispense.

I swear, it's like the fax machine and e-prescribing has lowered their intelligence even lower than it already was.

This situation pops up about 100 times per week: A patient calls us asking if we've been able to contact the doctor to get refills on a prescription. We check and see that the fax was sent 2 days ago, but the doctor didn't get back to us yet. In these situations, we advise the patient to call the office to speed things along. Twenty minutes later, the patient calls back saying that the office never received a fax from us. We assure the patient that we got confirmation the fax was sent, but we'll resend it again.

An hour later, the patient calls back up saying that the office still hasn't gotten our fax, and they told him to have the pharmacy fax it over again... and the cycle of faxing and calling goes on and on and on. Finally, I'll get fed up with going around in circles and call the office myself.

"No, we never received the fax. Are you sure your faxing to the right place?" the nurse asks.

"Yes, we have the fax number correct, but regardless can I just take the verbal authorization while I have you on the phone now," I say, not wanting to go through the whole process again.

"I'll just e-prescribe it to you," says the moron nurse.


Everything has to be a fax or an e-prescription. Even when I have someone from the office on the phone, they still insist on doing everything electronically when it would be SOOOOOOO much simpler just to take 2 seconds and tell me over the phone.

Modern technology certainly makes a lot of things easier for us. I like the fax machine. I'd hate to have to call on every single individual refill authorization request. It would take forever. However, in situations where there is an obvious communication problem or when things need to get done quickly, I like having the option of doing things the old fashioned way.

That was the most frustrating part of my last two days. I have a couple other things I want to write about too, so maybe I can get my blog jump started again.


Meghan said...

Why can't everyone switch to email from fax? We have a fax machine that can fax to email! All you need is scanner at the minimum and a secure internet connection. Then no more of this "I didn't get it" nonsense.

Good to see you back.

dlmatte said...

Sometimes when i call an office for something they stupidly forgot and they want us to fax it i tell them our fax machine is broken that they will have to write it down. Worst words in pharmacy is "can you fax it?". Wouldn't it be great if we could say to the patient "sorry doctor didn't write the rx properly, hand it back and have them yell at the office.

The Redheaded Pharmacist said...

I had a similar clarification issue the other day at work. All we needed to know was how many refills the prescriber wanted for a written Rx a patient had dropped off. Instead of looking it up in the patient's chart the nurse said "I have no idea what he wanted, just fax me the hard copy and I'll look at it" so I had to fax the hardcopy over to them. The whole reason why I was calling is because the hardcopy was too illegible to read the refills number! Now I'm faxing it over for someone else to tell me the same thing! What should have taken minutes to clear up instead took a few hours. It can be so frustrating sometimes!

Anonymous said...

What I don't get after practicing several yrs in pharmacy is why the docs can get a receptionist to read off prescriptions, but by law only pharmacists can get verbal Rxs and not anyone else. I guess one pro is better than no pro?