What is a REfill?

You’ve gotta love iscribe.com.

It always seemed clear to me:

“Do NOT refill.” at the bottom of my prescriptions.

For years it must have been clear to pharmacists. Then, inexplicably, at a pharmacy in a small town where I had placed the same order for the same patient every month for years, a pharmacist who otherwise seems to speak and understand the English language (unlike too many pharmacists), decided that I must have faxed the prescription order, complete with number of pills to dispense, just to tell them not to fill it.

Like I would waste my time doing that when I could be blogging or tweeting.

I had to look at the prescription again. It did not say, “Do not fill.” It said do not REfill. By telephone I assured the pharmacist that I did in fact want the drug dispensed to the patient. Once.

Then it happened again at a different pharmacy.

I contacted the state pharmacy board. Confirming my belief, a gentleman there told me that indeed fill or order means dispense while REfill means dispense again at a later time. When the patient contacts the pharmacy. Without contacting the doctor again.

Just to avoid further wasted time I changed the prescription form for these language-challenged pharmacies to:

“Refills: zero”

So far it seems to work.

William Safire must be turning over in his grave.

It seems I am not alone. For almost a year now when iscribe.com, the e-prescribing service I use most, contacted me via the Web with a refill authorization request, the form demanded that I specify the number of REfills. Alas, iscribe, too, has cried “uncle” in the face of prescribing illiteracy, apparently dumbing down in an attempt to avoid confusion. Today the iscribe refill authorization form reads:

“Total # of dispensings:”

Let’s hope we can all agree on what that means.

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