Includes: Step-by-step instructions and a script to help you communicate with your doctor’s office and pharmacy
Preface: Don’t Let It Come To This!Don’t wait until the day before your script is out to try to get an urgent refill. The more important a med is, the more wiggle room you need to leave your pharmacy. You want to do what you can to avoid being in exactly this position, where you have to carefully choose your words and your stress is through the roof. Set up automated refills, set up reminders, set up alarms, set up alerts– however your brain works, do what you can to keep on top of this stuff. However: shit happens, lines get crossed, to-do lists get forgotten, and sometimes you find yourself in this position whether you like it or not. So when you really need an urgent refill now, here’s what to do.
Don’t believe your pharmacy’s automated lineI use Walgreens so let’s use it as an example. If you call their automated line it will say “Your meds will be ready at 9 AM tomorrow,” whether it’s an urgent refill or not. And then you agree and the robot lady on the phone assures you it’ll be ready. Don’t believe it! Sometimes the automated system will immediately say “We need to contact your doctor about this refill, but it’ll still be ready at 9 AM.” Don’t listen! Maybe that’s how it works with some medications, maybe that works as it is supposed to a lot of the time, but you cannot depend on that if you urgently need your meds.
Urgent refill? Call your doctor first thingThe next morning, within an hour or so of the office opening, you call your doctor. Here’s the message I would leave for the nurse:
Hi this is Janet Jay, I am a patient of Dr. Whoever and I’m calling because I am completely out of Medication X. I took my final dose this morning and will need to pick them up before my next dose at 4 PM, so it’s extremely important to get this called in as soon as possible to the [pharmacy] at [address/cross streets]. If there are any problems don’t hesitate give me a call at [phone number]; if there are no issues, there’s no need to get in contact with me! Thank you SO much for your help on this, I really appreciate it.(The bit about calling back is optional but I always stick it in to save them a little bit of effort: you want to stay on the good side of the office staff as much as you possibly can.)
WAS THIS SCRIPT HELPFUL? SUBSCRIBE TO MY MAILING LIST AND RECEIVE A PDF WITH LINES AND INSTRUCTIONS FOR THREE CALLS OF INCREASING URGENCY
Take a look at that script: there are a lot of important hooks in there. No matter what, you MUST say: your name, your doctor, your medication, how much you have left, if it’s time sensitive and just how much, your pharmacy, and your phone number.
No matter how you word it, you have to make sure you communicate
- why you were calling,
- what you need them to do,
- when you need them to do it
- & why you need them to do it then
Wait. Double check with your pharmacy. Wait more.
Lay out what your problem is, what needs to be done about it, when that needs to be done and why. Stay polite, stay professional, state details and facts clearly.
I’ve definitely had refill sagas that made me cry, but leaving a sob-ridden message only goes so far: a doctors office going to take you so much more seriously if you say something like
“as of yesterday afternoon I am out of my pain medication which I usually take every twelve hours, I woke up this morning and my pain level was an eight so it’s incredibly important that my refill gets called in before noon today so I can pick it up before my next dose is due at 4.”