What Would You Do? – March 7, 2016

Scenario: A patient comes into the pharmacy with an opioid prescription and you quickly notice the date is missing. As a pharmacist, you may not write in a date on a Schedule Two medication. Politely, you inform the patient the medication cannot be filled without the date and instruct them to go back to the doctor’s office. Irritated, the patient leaves the pharmacy and returns 10 minutes later with a dated prescription. You are not sure if the patient went back to the doctor’s office or simply wrote the date in himself.
If you were in this situation, “What Would YOU Do?”

Resolution: Depending on the situation, the outcomes could vary. In this specific situation, the pharmacist believed the patient had written in the date and did not fill the medication. The best way to have handled this situation would have been to call the physician’s office initially to verify the prescription and then request a mailed prescription that is signed and dated correctly as verification of the prescription’s validity. This avoids the “back and forth” and placing the patient in an awkward position.

Take-away: It’s not easy for pharmacists to make decisions that may cause an ethical dilemma. Use common sense and take into consideration all factors when filling a prescription. When in doubt, if you suspect the prescription is not valid, do not fill it.