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Last Update: 01/27/16

Many people may assume that doctors, nurses, and pharmacists all work together like a happy health team, working together to insure that the right drugs and medicines get to patients as soon as possible. Unfortunately, that’s not the reality these days.

Medication errors and drug mistakes are a big problem in this country right now, pitting physicians against pharmacists in many cases.   Consider this: recently, the American Medical Association (AMA), the big national doctor’s organization, passed an official resolution regarding pharmacists and prescriptions written by doctors.


In June 2013, the American Medical Association passed a resolution that pharmacists were calling doctors too much with questions about prescriptions they were being asked to fill.


AMA Resolution: Stop Calling So Much!

In the AMA House of Delegates June 2013 Resolution, doctors formally informed pharmacists that all those phone calls that pharmacists have been making to doctors’ offices, checking on pain medicine prescriptions before the pharmacist filled the prescription and gave out the pain drugs, weren’t welcome.

That’s right: the doctors officially informed the drug store pharmacists to stop calling them. Of course, this didn’t go down so easily with the pharmacists.

Doctors in the United States have taken the position that the pharmacists were simply calling too much — that drug store calls regarding pain medications to doctors have been happening to, to much.

The AMA Resolution calls them “…inappropriate inquiries….”   Why?

From the AMA: the calls are asking doctors “… to verify the medical rationale behind prescriptions, diagnoses and treatment plans,…” and the doctors see this “… to be an interference with the practice of medicine and unwarranted.”

Doctors Point to Walgreens’ Pharmacy Procedure as an Example

Doctors are using Walgreens’ Pharmacy as an example to bolster their argument. Walgreens instituted a new procedure for its pharmacists for pain medication prescriptions, requiring them to contact the physician who had prescribed the drug and ask them specific medical background information, including:

  • diagnoses;
  • International Classification of Diseases Ninth Revision codes;
  • patient treatment plans;
  • expected length of therapy; and
  • previously tried medications.

Doctors see this new protocol by Walgreens as intrusive into their expertise, as well as their practice, pointing out that answering these queries from Walgreens Pharmacists means:

  • A vast increase in the number of phone calls and faxes to prescribers for detailed patient medical information.
  • Denials or delays in delivery of medically necessary medications.
  • Ignoring of the established protocols that define physician– prescriber interactions.
  • Imposing undue and virtually unattainable time demands upon the prescribing professional and the pharmacist.
  • Resulting in unjustifiable hardship and possible medical harm to patients.

As the president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine explains in his president’s message:

The pharmacist does not have access to the medical record and may not possess specific knowledge about the practice of pain medicine. It is not within professional bounds, nor is it practically tenable, to expect to question the medical rationale or decisions of a prescriber with every controlled substance prescription. Neither can the Controlled Substances Act serve as the basis for reversing from afar medical decisions made by a prescriber without adequate evidence of fraud, negligence, incompetence, or criminal intent.

Pharmacists are upset about this position for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that the pharmacist is viewed as the “gatekeeper” in the national fight against abuse of pain medications in this country (including the DEA).

Pharmacists are trying to check pain medication prescriptions to insure that there isn’t a problem of abusing the pain medications – a specific kind of medication error in this country where pain medications are being overprescribed and overused or misused.  Now, their phone calls may not get answered by doctors….

How does this conflict between doctors and pharmacists help fight medication errors and drug dosage injuries in this country?  Sadly, it doesn’t.

What Should You Do Now?

A good piece of advice if you have been harmed by a medication error, is to at least speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer before you file a claim to learn about some of the issues that can arise with these claims, including the type of evidence needed to prove a claim and the type and amount of damages you can recover. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person) to answer your questions.



Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.



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