Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Archive for the ‘pharmacies’ Category

Should Doctors Dispense Medications?

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on April 12, 2013

CVS' automatic prescription refill problem,0,1884241.column


Should doctors dispense their own medications? Why do we need pharmacies? Many optometrists also sell glasses, so why should a doctor not give out the medication that he/she prescribes? This question has baffled me for years. As a psychiatrist, I fantasize about the possibility of giving medication on the spot, avoiding the second step of what many of my patients call the “shame” of having to go to a pharmacy, with the often-felt look of dismay on the dispenser’s face, as my patient picks up his third psychotropic medication because the first two did not work. As the LA Times series, mentioned above, illustrates, pharmacies, as the middle-men, are subject to miscommunication and possibly fraudulent behavior. If doctors dispensed medication, the patient paid the physician, then the physician gave the patient a receipt, allowing the patient to get reimbursement. This reimbursement would be done at the same time the patient is reimbursed for the office visit. Simplicity and efficiency would prevail. Fewer mistakes, as it would be unlikely for me as a physician to dispense the wrong medication to my patient. Costs are less because I would bear the overhead expense of storing and tracking the medication. The intimacy of my relationship with my patients would benefit, as adding a third player into our relationship often feels intrusive and unnecessary. Rarely, pharmacists answer important questions for my patients, but for those situations, I would hope that there are pharmacists, on call, for a fee, that are available to explore medication inquiries, including drug interactions. There-health care in the next century-maybe if the folks in Washington consulted me-real progress could be made. Whose ear do I need?

Posted in Doctor/Patient Relationship, pharmacies, Psychiatry in Transition | 2 Comments »

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

Posted in Doctor/Patient Relationship, Electronic Medical Records, pharmacies, Psychopharmacology, Psychotherapy | 4 Comments »

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