Back in the good ol’ days, prescribing medications was a breeze. All a doctor had to do was scribble a few hieroglyphics on a piece of paper with his non-dominant hand, then the pharmacist would stare at that paper bug-eyed for a few minutes, shrug his shoulders, shovel some green pills into a flip-top-lid bottle, and BOOM: medication prescribed!
But now, in this modern era of computers, fax machines, cell phones, email, and Onl!ne F@arma-C OMG CanaD1@n V!@agr@ C1Ali$ 0n $$ale, the act of prescribing medication has become
even simpler and more elegant more complicated and clogged with various prescribing methods, rules, and governmental over-sight. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that (when the computers/printers/email/faxmachines are working), nobody has to read my horrible doctor-graffiti: I think it’s safer all around! Yet the modern prescription (Rx) system has some interesting quirks.
Example 1: Phone prescriptions. So, I (or my nurse) can call a pharmacy (and wait on hold for a while) and talk to a pharmacist who will write down what I prescribe over the phone, read it back to me, and then fill the Rx for the patient without ever seeing my signature. This is relatively safe, since they’re not allowed to fill phone Rx’s for the “higher-category” (i.e. “more often abused and misused”) drugs; plus usually pharmacists will confirm the prescriber’s identity through ID numbers, phone numbers, etc. (Technically, someone COULD pretend to be me and call in a Rx for 500 Colace and Imodium for themselves, but that’s just assinine). HOWEVER, at most pharmacies, if I happen to walk up to their front desk and try to speak a prescription to the pharmacist, I wouldn’t be allowed to — the Rx would need to be written down! Apparently doctors seem more legitimate by phone than in person.
Example 2: E-prescriptions. As part of the Electronic Medical Record rage, e-prescribing has become very popular. I can use my work computer to EITHER print out a Rx directly onto “tamper-proof prescription paper” which I then sign and give to the patient to hand-carry to their pharmacy; OR I can electronically fax the Rx to a pharmacy so that by the time the patient arrives, the pharmacist can shuffle through their papers, make the patient wait 30 minutes “to see if the fax will come in soon”, and then eventually discover that the fax machine is out of paper. But the real flaw here is in that “tamper-proof paper”: if I fax the Rx to the pharmacy, the Rx just prints out on their regular ol’ plain white fax/printer paper; and it doesn’t even have my signature on it, just my printed name and ID numbers. So apparently nobody else the ability to photoshop and fax a “electronic prescription” to a pharmacy? Hmm.
Ok, that’s enough complaining about signatures. New topic tomorrow!
(But I really enjoyed the irony of having to Google “spam email medicine examples” to write this post)
ASS-inine. Colace + Imodium. Get it?