I have had bronchitis for what is beginning to feel like forever. Back in November I started waking up every morning with a really bad cough. This continued until the Friday before Christmas. That’s when I developed a sore throat to accompany the cough. That entire weekend I dealt with my voice going bye-bye and generally feeling awful. The Monday before Christmas I went to my doctor’s office, and they did a flu test, because I was showing symptoms of the flu. The test came back negative, but they decided to treat me for the flu anyway (Omaha is currently a hotbed of flu, so not an unreasonable treatment decision). Then on Christmas, breathing got so difficult I found myself in the ED, where they did chest x-rays and another flu test. My chest was clear and I was definitely negative for flu. They gave me a breathing treatment, and diagnosed me with an upper respiratory viral infection. With being in the middle of the holidays, the earliest I could get in to see my regular doctor for a follow up was last Friday (1/3). Since I wasn’t doing much better, she diagnosed me with bronchitis, and prescribed me a couple of meds, one of which needs a nebulizer. She also told me that if I’m not over this by my next follow-up, she’s probably going to send me to see a pulmonologist; which considering I have a long history of bad lung infections, bronchitis and pneumonia, is understandable.
And that’s when the drama began.
About an hour after the prescriptions were sent in, I got a call from CVS letting me know that they could fill the all the meds, but they didn’t carry nebulizers. No big deal, I thought. I left a message for my doctor regarding this, and went to work. Mid-afternoon, I received a message from my doctor that she’d sent my nebulizer prescription in to a local pharmacy. Since I worked until 9:30 that night I was unable to go pick up the script.
Saturday morning, I decided to call the pharmacy to see if the script was ready, since I didn’t really want to drive all the way across town to find out it wasn’t. When I called, they informed me that they had received no prescription, and therefore had nothing for me. Baffled, I hung up, and sent a message to my doctor so she’d know what was going on. I knew I wouldn’t hear back anything until today.
First thing this morning I get a message from my doctor stating she called the pharmacy, and when they looked into their faxes, they found the script that had been sent on Friday. They just hadn’t printed it out. Now they had, and they told her they were in the process of getting it put together for me.
I had some other errands to run, and when I got done, I realized I had enough time to swing by the pharmacy before my therapy appointment.
I stupidly assumed that since this was a local pharmacy that’s been around forever, it was going to be a good experience handled by helpful people.
I walked in, and there was a guy and a gal working the drop-off and pick-up area. They both appeared to be in either their late 50’s or early 60’s. On the shelf right behind them was sitting a nebulizer with paperwork tucked into the top of the box (I mention this, because it will come up later in the story). I told them why I was there, and received a confused reaction from them. The man went, “A nebu…?” As if I had uttered a foreign word. To which I responded, “A nebulizer.” He shook his head, and the woman said, “We don’t have any orders for that.”
I proceeded to tell them everything from my doctor sending the script to the fact she had called this morning to find out why they hadn’t received it. I told them she was told it was there and being put together for me. I offered to give them my doctor’s info and the clinic phone number so they could verify what I was saying. Instead they asked me if I’d ever been to their pharmacy before, and who did my doctor talk to this morning. The answers were no, and I have no idea. The guy then pulls out this pile of papers and starts rifling through them, which leads to he and the gal getting into an argument because these are the faxes from the last two weeks and no one’s gone through them yet.
At that point I seriously considered walking out, but instead I pointed to the nebulizer behind them and asked if that was the paperwork they were looking for. Neither one even looked, they just informed me. “No, it’s not.” After several more minutes of going through faxes and fighting with each other, I was told they didn’t have it, and was I sure it had been sent to them. Considering that my doctor had provided me with the name, address, and phone number of their pharmacy as where I was supposed to go, I knew I was in the right place. Again I offered to give them my doctor’s contact information, but they blew me off.
While this is happening, other people started coming in, and they turned their attention to helping those customers. After they handled a few people, the gal turned to me and asks if I’ve ever been there before, and could I be in their system. I told her I’ve never gotten my prescriptions filled by them, so I doubt I’m in their system.
They helped more customers.
Finally, the guy told me that they don’t have my script and he doesn’t know how else to help me. Really frustrated at that point, I told him I’m going to go get ahold of my doctor and find out what she wants me to do. He then offered to call and get the script.
I give him the info, and waited as he called. He got the info and had them fax over the script again. When he got off the phone, he told me that the fax number they sent to before is one he’s unfamiliar with. He then proceeds to try to look me up in their system…which surprise surprise I’m NOT in. I gave him my i.d. and insurance card, and he starts inputting my info. At the same time, he decides to have this other customer, who was there to return some medical equipment, come up to the same desk, right next to me to start her return process. And when I say right next to, I mean picture the bank teller area, and instead of having her go to a separate station, he had her come to the same station I was at, where all my private information was sitting out, easy to see. I snagged my stuff as soon as I could, but not as soon as I would’ve liked. Since I work in healthcare, this whole situation set off so many privacy violation alarms in my head.
Finally, he told me that once he receives the script, he’ll send my insurance info to their people that will investigate (yes, he actually said investigate), my insurance to see if the nebulizer will be covered.
After 30+ minutes of this nightmare, I finally left, and headed for therapy. This is where the story gets even better.
My therapist is based in the same practice as my doctor. I figured that I’d see if there was a way to catch my doctor after therapy, just to give her a heads up regarding the situation. As it turned out, I ended up running into her in the hall as my therapist and I were headed back to session.
Doctor: Did you see my message? I got a hold of the pharmacy this morning and they’re filling the script.
Me: Yeah, so I just spent 30+ minutes over there and they had no idea what I was talking about.
This led to me relating the entire situation that had transpired at the pharmacy. Both my therapist and doctor were equally horrified as I filled them in. Then when my doctor found out that I still don’t have the nebulizer, she was clearly upset
Turns out, this pharmacy is the one place in town she’d found that is currently carrying nebulizers. She told me she was going to call them again to see if she could get a better handle on what was going on with them, and why I’d had such a ridiculous experience.
So, now I wait…and try not to cough.