I’d like to introduce you to a woman named Kristie. Now for privacy, HIPAA, and general courtesy I will refrain from using her full name. Kristie’s story is far too common and serves as a testament to our increasing need for change. Unfortunately, the change we’ve seen lately has taken a dramatic turn in the opposite direction for those with chronic pain. The current debate over opiates and their availability, has significantly affected those with chronic pain/illness. While many people honestly believe it is a ploy to gain access to drugs, most pain patients are dependent on these medications to simply make it through the day outside of their beds. But let’s get back to Kristie’s story.
A few days ago, Kristie had to pick up a prescription from her local pharmacy. As with all controlled substance scripts, she did as she always had done… went to the same place to fill it. But when that place did not have what she needed, they recommended she go to a different pharmacy nearby (so she wouldn’t have to wait the 2-3 days it would take for them to get the rest of it in, because they knew she needed it right away and would have had to get a ride). When she arrived at the other pharmacy (due to legality, we’ll call it “Wally’s”), when she got to Wally’s she sat and waited for almost 40 minutes before she was called back by the pharmacist. This is where the story takes a very dark turn. You see, at many pharmacies, it is a common practice to screen for “red flags” on medications. If someone is filling a script that is usually filled elsewhere, the pharmacist can refuse to fill it. Just out-right refuse. Or if you’re filling it one day before you “should” because you’re going to be out-of-town and can’t fill it after a certain time. They can refuse to fill it at all. Pharmacists have total control over what medications we can and cannot take, even without consulting your doctor. Kristie found this out the hard way. The pharmacist at Wally’s berated her (in front of other customers in line, violating HIPAA laws) and accused her of attempting to fill the script at multiple pharmacies.
Here’s an excerpt from Kristie’s first post-
[“You are not consistent. You can’t do what you’re doing. I will not sign off on this type of behavior”. I explained to her that I always go to ——– for all my prescriptions but they did not have enough to fill it and told me to come here since it was the closest place (they are my pharmacy and know me well so they also know I can’t drive and were trying to make it a quick trip for me). She looked at me and said “Nope” and shook her head. Umm… ok, I think to myself. I honestly was dumbfounded and felt the tears streaming down my face, thinking great the tears are making it worse because I look desperate so I turned away and wiped my face. Mind you there’s a whole line of people watching all of this. She picked my filled bottle of meds up and showed me and said “You’re not getting these from me today”. I asked for my prescription back and she goes “well I guess you can try somewhere else. You’re use to it anyway”. And very slowly handed it to me.]
After that she went back to her original pharmacy and explained what happened, they were disgusted (as they should have been). With sincere apologies, they filled as much of the script as they could, with a promise to call when the rest came in. But the damage was done. Kristie had been made to feel like a criminal for something she had zero control over. Her doctor wrote her a prescription, and when she went to fill it, an over-zealous pharmacist took it upon herself to play judge and jury.
The out-pouring of support on social sites for Kristie’s story has been incredible! Many even took to the “Wally” Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp sites to confront the mega-chain and demand something be done. Kristie herself has been over-whelmed by the attention her post caused, but it has also given her a new goal in life. The hashtag #patientsnotaddicts, has been around for a while, but is just now gaining momentum because of the newest ruling on opiates. Kristie is the newest to pick up the torch for their cause and I’m standing beside her as well.
While reading through many of the comments on her post, it amazed me just how many people had similar experiences. I myself have had something very close, where I was accused of trying to fill the same script twice. But it turned out to be a mistake on the pharmacies end. Just that one gut wrenching moment when someone looks at you like a criminal can be devastating! To have someone loudly proclaim it for other customers to hear, should be considered reckless and slanderous. This person should be held accountable and brought to justice. We are patients, not addicts!
Not everyone who takes opiates is a drug addict, seriously. Most people are not! I’m not saying that there are people who do not abuse them, obviously there are. But if the doctor wrote a prescription, there’s obviously a reason. Let’s rally behind Kristie and the #patientsnotaddicts cause to stop discrimination against people who NEED these medications.