I’m on the phone with CVS. My husband’s prescription had never made it to wherever it needs to be to become a bottle of pills he can purchase and take home. It started when we went to see the doctor about the spider bite, a week ago tomorrow.

His doctor wanted to give him a stronger muscle relaxant because the leg is troubling him. And anyway, the one she usually prescribes, Medicare will only cover half the amount he needs. But, it turned out they wouldn’t cover the substitute at all. So, it was back to the original script.

Which never (apparently) made it to the pharmacy. The doctor’s front office forgot to send it. Again. Or CVS lost it in a pile of faxes from a zillion doctors. Again.

It turned out to be even simpler and more bizarre. What really happened? The doctor’s office faxed the prescription, but the fax telephone line at CVS was overloaded. The prescription, stuck on the electronic waiting list, timed out. When I called this morning, they said they hadn’t received it. They hadn’t because they never clear their lines or empty out the memory of the machine.

Eventually, the manager called me. I had not complained, but I probably had that “unhappy customer sound” in my voice, a tone they have come to know and love.

I said: “The problem seems to be that your fax line is overloaded and the doctor can’t get through. Have you considered adding another line and another machine? It wouldn’t cost you hardly any money and it would improve your relationship with customers and doctors too.”

lightbulb idea

“That’s a good idea,” he said. “I could run that past corporate. It would be inexpensive and solve a lot of problems.”

Right. This being a longstanding and well-known problem, why do they need me to tell them? Isn’t this something the manager could figure out?

As in “Duh!! Our fax line is so busy doctors can’t get through and patients don’t get their prescriptions in a timely fashion. We need another line! Another fax machine!

Personally, I’ve gone back to getting paper scripts. I hand them to the pharmacist, just like I used to in the old days. Ninety-nine out of a hundred times, I actually get my prescription. It’s a miracle!

Progress doesn’t always move forward. Sometimes, it means going backwards and taking technology out of the loop.

Categories: Anecdote, Customer Service, Humor, Medical

Tags: , , , , , ,

44 replies

  1. First off, I hope your husband has recovered. Then it reminded me of a recent trip to a box store where after stand in an unbelievably long line, I remarked that they needed more cashiers. The person answered that corporate (many states away) set up the schedules three months in advance. Huh. 🙂


    • And that is why they never have the things in the local grocery that local people buy, but whatever the corporate regional buyers have decreed. It is a really stupid and annoying approach to marketing. Meanwhile, the lines just get longer.

      Garry IS getting better. Slowly, but definitely improving. Another week and I think he’ll be his usual boyish, bouncy self.


  2. My pharmacy is next door to the doctors – just get my prescription in my hot little (or in my case cold) hands and just walk 10 steps and hand it over to the pharmacist. Plus I didn’t need to pay a cent. At least you know where it is at all times.


  3. Nothng like paper! They haven’t found a viable alternative yet.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. At Mecca, the chances of such a request being fulfilled would depend on how close it is to the end of the current fiscal quarter. Usually, as the quarter draws to a close, budgets are tightened to the limit and eventually cut off all together. If you are ever in a Mecca restroom that has no paper towels, you can bet it’s the end of the quarter. That extra fax machine, as great of an idea as it would be, would definitely be put on hold until the head honchos up the chain unfroze the store’s budget.

    The customer is always right, but the quarterly budget is even righter…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Our doctor emails the prescriptions as well, we don’t even see them anymore. It’s right done at our visit. Works like a charm.


    • It’s not email. It’s electronically sent to a fax machine. They have to print prescriptions and file them. Federal law.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s called an e-prescription. It’s at the pharmacy at the same time when I am still there and mostly filled before I leave the doc’s office. It’s not send via fax , it’s a secure network between doctors and pharmacies.


        • And then, it gets downloaded to a machine which prints it out. You don’t have to call it a fax. You can call it a printer, but the law requires pharmacies keep a hard copy of prescriptions. Everyone here and apparently in Canada call it a fax, even though it’s done using an electronic message that is identical to email. It’s where it goes that defines it and doesn’t matter what you call it.

          It’s only instant if they aren’t so overloaded with incoming messages that they have time to look through them. They USED to be instant here, too … until the volume of prescriptions coming in from hospitals and doctors overwhelmed the system.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I don’t know how they have to file it, but I learned everything about the e prescription thing from a friend of mine. She is a pharmacist and was raving over it, went on and on for weeks. We all got a crash curse in “how much better it was” if we wanted to or not. Have to ask her about the printing for their files.


            • They started doing it here about 10 years ago. At first, almost all the doctors didn’t bother. It was faster to just write the prescription. Then they got these special, fancy little medical laptops that have a prescription program. The just enter the name of the drug and the software fills out the rest. Doctor add dosage information and put an electronic signature on it — unless it’s a controlled substance in which case it spits out a paper copy because controlled substances (and they have redefined what is controlled and what isn’t rather recently) have to be delivered as hard copy to patients AND pharmacies. Rules vary slightly from state to state, but not much.


              • I never see a hardcopy of my prescriptions, but can access them online, they are in my medical files at the doctors office. You know, there might different laws for different stats. God forbid we all have the same laws, it would be less confusing and we don’t want that.


  6. Fax? My doctors email the prescriptions- have never had a problem unless the item happens to be out of stock and they call me immediately to let me know.


  7. Here the fax machine is used for prescription renewals. If you have but one repeat on a prescription the pharmacist sends a fax to the doctor who then decides if he/she will renew and faxes the response back to the pharmacy. It usually works, unless one of the fax machines is overloaded …


  8. oops ! ‘started’ is missing. They should have a edit button too.


  9. I’m sad to say this is a problem that occurs everywhere. Employees are trained or tasked with dealing with their electronic gadgets. Pharmacies like those at Target or Costco are swamped with customers these days. The pharmaceutical industry is booming, causing longer lines and more jammed up fax machines. I feel your pain. You should see the jam at my VA with only one phone line for incoming calls, like pharmacies asking for refills. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    • In the beginning, when most doctors were still giving paper scripts, a fax was much faster. Now that all the doctors use electronic faxes for prescriptions, there’s a permanent logjam in every pharmacy. I’ve gone back to getting paper scripts. At least they get to the pharmacy.


    • Bob, we have a gentle looking elderly man who staffs the “pick up” counter at our pharmacy. He has the demeanor of a “Cuckoo’s Nest” alum as he listens, asks the usual questions and then ever slowly sifts through the piles of rx’s. He hums a sweet melody as he peruses the rx’s, looks puzzled and slowly moves on, still humming that sweet melody. The crowd of waiting customer grows longer and longer.


  10. We still get our scripts the old fashioned way, on paper which I then walk to the chemist with. None of those new fangled fax machines for us! They have a nice little service too for patients who take regular medications, you leave them the prescription and repeats and when you need more just call them and they will deliver to your home. Not bad for a little country town and a boon now that we have become a driverless family.


  11. People still use fax machines?


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