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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Pick One

Patients. Please. I implore, beg, beseech, supplicate, humbly request that you pick one pharmacy and stick with it. (Exceptions can be made for special items your pharmacy cannot stock or compound.) It used to be that people only used one pharmacy and often chose one due to the pharmaCIST. Now it is de rigueur for everyone to shop around. To compare prices. To use coupons. To get a free tank of gas. Free banana peeler. Whatever. The point is there is a problem with NOT using a single pharmacy.
In order to do our jobs, to completely perform all the tasks associated with our jobs, we need to have your complete record on file. If you use one pharmacy, or a single chain, everything will be there. If you use insurance for all of your prescriptions, they will have a record as well and will often alert pharmacies to drug interactions. But not always.
Herein lies the problem. When people are looking to save a few dollars and shop around, they often tell the pharmacy to keep it off their insurance. The FREE antibiotics and diabetes medications don't need to go on there, right? Patients often come in for those and tell us they are just cash customers. Patients often get the majority of their profile filled at one pharmacy but use another for the free and $4 medications. (I've never understood why people do that. Why drive all over town? Just get everything at the same place. People can't keep track of where they keep their keys or cell phone, but they can juggle 2-4 pharmacies?) They also want us to keep the $4 medications off their insurance. It adds up, they say. Fine. The only problem is, no one else knows you are taking this. Not your insurance. Not your other pharmacy(ies). Often, not your other doctors. If no one knows what you are taking, no one knows what types of interactions you may have.
As with all things, a profile is only as good as the information in it. Incomplete records result in incomplete care. I know a few pharmacies are slowly moving away from their free and $4 lists. Hopefully this means people will take those 1 or 2 scattered medications back to their main pharmacy. Please make sure you inform every healthcare worker you see what medications you take. Doctors offices make you fill out a form and ask with every visit, to list your medications. You should tell every pharmacy the same thing. It's okay. It's not cheating. We already know you're doing it. You don't even have to tell us who she is. Just tell us what she fills for you. Seriously. Then go back and read the first paragraph. Hopefully you pick us. I honestly don't care. I only care that you continue to use one pharmacy so you can get the most complete healthcare you deserve. Seriously.

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