Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Doctor, Patient and Pharmacies: An Oedipal Triangle

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on October 24, 2012

CVS Caremark has become a frequent subject of government probes


For years, pharmacies call me “demanding” a refill for a patient. Sometimes I have never heard of the patient. Other times, I just saw the patient and handed them a prescription. Still, other times, I have not seen the patient in quite some time. Without knowing the circumstances, pharmacists leave messages like “this is our third call,” as if, I have been a “bad girl” and not responded, as if I need to respond to a message that does not make sense. Today’s LA Times, exposes a practice that I have long suspected. Pharmacies call for refills, even when the patient does not ask for a refill, so that they can bill the insurance company. “That is why I don’t call back pharmacies unless the patient tells me ahead of time that I will get a call,” I want to scream to all who will hear. As I see it, the pharmacy represents an intrusion into my relationship with my patient. I work to help my patients, not the pharmacy. The pharmacy enters into my relationship with “demands” which I find out of place. One of the many advantages I have, by not having a staff, is that I am on the front lines with all of the administrative details of practice. My ship is small, but it sails. No intrusions allowed.,0,6138463.story

4 Responses to “Doctor, Patient and Pharmacies: An Oedipal Triangle”

  1. Jon said

    An adage that I have used well over the years was that “One should never blame on malice that which is equally well explained by stupidity.” A wiser colleague and friend of mine saw more deeply into the human condition. His response was “Never underestimate anyone’s vanity, stupidity or greed.” Sadly, your story hits the last of his sad trio of human foibles.

    Sail well those wine-dark seas of modern medicine and pharmacology. There be dragons…

  2. Shelly said

    How about refusing to refill any patient you’ve never heard of or one you haven’t seen in a long time, and only giving paper prescriptions to your patients with x number of refills already written on the prescriptions? That way you never receive those annoying calls for refills from the pharmacy. Your patients will know that if they want refills after they’ve they’ve used up the x number you’ve marked on the written prescription, they have to make another appointment with you to receive another hand-written prescription.

    • Shirah said

      The problem is that the phone calls happen, sometimes without the consent of the patient, so although I can minimize the calls, given that I prescribe, I can never stop the calls completely. Thank you.

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