The Life of a Prescription and How You Can Help

Written by Kyle Farina

As we continue to develop new technologies and innovations, we – as people – are becoming used to having whatever we want at the tip of our fingers and we are able to get it fast. As a result, we tend to want things done as soon as possible for our convenience. One of the common things we hear everyday at pharmacies all over the country is, “why does it take so long to fill my medication?” and “you just move one the pills from one bottle to the other, right?” It is completely understandable that patients want their medications readily available at all times; however, the life of a prescription is not necessarily as simple as moving pills from one bottle to the next.

First, your prescription starts at your providers office. In New York State, your provider is required to send an electronic prescription to a pharmacy of the patient’s choosing. So, as you’re getting ready to leave the office, your provider informs you of a new medication he will be starting you on and you he will send the script right away. Great! You can run to the pharmacy now and pick-up said medication, right? Not quite…

In an ideal world, the prescription will be sent to the pharmacy right away; however, there are a couple obstacles in the way. For example, some providers will write all of their prescriptions for the day and save them, then “release” them to all the pharmacies at a specific point in the day. All providers are different and there is no way to determine whether the provider placed your prescription in with the later batch or sent it right away. Also, there are the hiccups associated with needing electronic prescriptions. Power outages, connection issues, mis-clicking, etc. are all possible errors that may delay your prescription from arriving to the pharmacy. At this point, the prescription which was sent to the pharmacy while you were leaving may not have even left the provider’s office.

Once the prescription arrives to our pharmacy electronically, we enter the data into our system and – uh oh! – we found an error in the prescription! Something does not add up on the prescription and we need to clarify the order with your doctor. I am more than happy to call the office for you, but this takes time, as I now have to get into contact with your provider or nurse and they are also busy seeing patients. Unfortunately, this process takes time, as we do not want to make guesses as to what the prescription should be and hurt the patient.

Once the prescription was clarified and we are good to go, we can start counting out your prescription and getting it labeled and ready to be verified. However, when we went to grab your medication from our shelf, we found out that we don’t have enough to fill the prescription and have to order more. We can supply you with a couple days’ worth, but we will not be able to give you the full prescription until we receive the new order, which may take up to 2 days depending on shipping, weather, etc.

While these are some common issues we encounter on a day-to-day basis, it is important to know that this does not happen all the time. Not every prescription will come be sent at the end of the day. Not every prescription will have something mismatched or interact with another medication that you are taking. Most common medications are also readily available and in-stock at your pharmacy. Unfortunately, there is no way for us to predict whether or not your prescription may encounter these hiccups – and we wish there were so we could inform you – and your prescription may not be ready for pick-up immediately after leaving the doctor’s office.

There are things you can do to help! Calling your pharmacy beforehand is a great way to get started and see if the prescription has reached the pharmacy yet and to make sure that we have the medication in stock. Talking with a member of our staff is also a great way to check if the medication interacts or if we are working to resolve an issue with your prescription.  The pharmacy is also working on a lot of other prescriptions as well, and we can give you a better idea of when your prescription is going to be ready for pick-up! This does not just benefit the pharmacy; we want to make sure that you are also benefitting and not wasting a trip only for us to tell you that we do not have medication.

As always, feel free to call us or talk with a member of our staff if you have any questions. We are more than happy to help you!

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