automatic refill, schmautomatic refill

I have hypothyroidism. No big deal. In fact, my endocrinologist says that if anyone were to choose their medical condition, it’s hypothyroidism. “Pick me!” he raises his hand as if in class, “I want hypothyroidism!”

My thyroid gland is inactive. Think of it as the kid in class named Hypo who is always picked last for kickball. Hypo is a little slow to catching a fly ball. He might even let it bounce while the other body parts run around the bases. Hypo can’t kick far either. If he isn’t up to speed, neither are his teammates.

So I take Synthroid to catch up. Two months ago, I found out I have a genetic heart murmur. Also not a big deal but when paired with a high dose of Synthroid, it’s irritating. You feel light-headed, dizzy and once again you’re on that playground chasing after kickballs you’ll never get. My doctor lowered the dose from 137 mcg. to 125 mcg. and immediately I felt better.

My pharmacy (which shall remain nameless but it goes by three letters that rhyme with CVS) has a nifty little program called Automatic Refill. It calls you with an automated message stating, “Your medication is ready for refill, press any key to continue.”

I understand this is convenient. It saves the customer time and for when the customer forgets to call in a refill, it’s right there waiting. However, the automated message does not name the medication or its dose. Each customer might be on a myriad of different meds. When one of the meds has its dose changed, shouldn’t a red flag tell a human eye at CVS, “Wait, there’s two prescriptions for the same med but at different doses. Which one is right? Perhaps we should ask the customer.”

Silly me for thinking that when I hand over a prescription for a different dose, they remove the old one from their system. Or at least someone asks me to take it off. The computer doesn’t know any better. I get its message for refill not knowing what I’m approving. I assume they have their ducks in a row. Then I pick up the wrong dose and take it for 6 weeks until I happen to check the bottle.

A human eye notices these changes but not an automatic refill. CVS needs to revamp their system into identifying the meds and doses in their automated messages. The person behind the counter should have a list of all meds up on their computer screen when a customer picks them up. If they see something as simple as the same med but two different doses, then major red flags, bells, whistles, and fart noises should go off so they ask, “Ms. Jones, which dose are you taking? Would you like me to take the old dose off for you?”

In my case, it was just annoying. But in other cases, it could be fatal. And I doubt an Automatic Refill can testify in court.


One comment

  1. Lynne Bolinger · July 31, 2010

    Don’t get me started on CVS: I will go without rather than shop there. Walgreens is probably no better but for me, it’s the better choice.

    Glad you triumphed over the machine!


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