Making Prescription Refills Easier

By Sabrina Bullock, RN, BSN


Caregivers face many challenges including making sure medications are refilled and there are many things which can make this easier. Firstly, do not wait till the last pill as this may lead to other problems. You may be able to get the medication refilled, but you may end up finding the prescription has expired or has no more refills left. You will then have to call the healthcare provider to request a refill or call the pharmacy to fax the providerís office a refill request. Many healthcare providersí offices say allow 24 to 48 hours for a refill request, so a little advance planning can go a long way.

Secondly, it is helpful to have a list of all medications and supplements being taken, including the name of the medication or supplement, dose, and frequency taken. It helps if the dose is specific, such as how many milligrams per capsule or tablet, rather than a generic reference such as one or two capsules or tablets. This is only an example, so read the label on the medication container for the dosage information. The list can come in handy for requesting refills, answering questions which may come up at the pharmacy or on visits to a healthcare provider. Another addition which would be especially useful for long-distance care providers would be the rx number from the prescription bottle. Just remember the rx number may change at times, such as if the medication is filled at another pharmacy.

Next, consider which method is most convenient for you to refill medications. When picking up medications in person at the pharmacy, save yourself some time by using your telephone. Call in advance to fill medication prescriptions and to check if the medicines are ready. Some pharmacies even offer a service to send a text message to your cell phone alerting you when your medications are ready to be picked up. It also helps to try to pick up medications during a less busy time of day. You may learn this through experience or through talking with the pharmacy staff. If you use the automatic refill system available at some pharmacies, the medication will already be filled and ready for pick up when it is due to run out. Also, taking advantage of pharmacies offering 90-day refills for medications taken on a regular basis can decrease the time spent in line at the pharmacy.

Medications may also be delivered by mail. Check with individual pharmacies for availability. The US Department of Veterans Affairs allows veterans to request refills for medications via the telephone and online through the My HealtheVet system. Just remember to allow time for mail order medications so you do not end up running out. Some pharmacies even offer personal delivery services, but this is not so readily available in all areas.

Medications may be a day-to-day challenge of caregiving, but hopefully some of these tips will make prescription refills easier. Remember not to wait till the last moment to reorder medications. Preparedness saves time and frustration. Also, utilize technology whenever possible as an aide to make your job easier. You have more important things to do than spend any more time than necessary in the pharmacy line.

Sabrina Bullock is an RN, BSN with experience in postpartum, newborn, and home health nursing. She has been a nurse for over 15 years. She has been a caregiver for her spouse who has multiple health problems including heart failure, atrial fibrillation, and COPD. She has been a long distance caregiver for her mother with multiple health problems including diabetes and chronic pain. She has also been caregiver to several other family members through the years. She has a strong interest in alternative healthcare and utilizes many methods such a aromatherapy, homeopathy, and herbs with her family.


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