We field a lot of calls about a lot of issues in the emergency department and now that the COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus) pandemic is among us and upon us, we find ourselves fielding a lot of questions about medications. Patients with preexisting medical conditions, whether it puts them in a high risk category or not, are calling us because now that they have remained inside, now that they are practicing social distancing, they’re finding it challenging because they look at their pill bottles and their prescriptions are running low. They have prescription refills on file, some do not, but the question is how do I deal with my chronic medications when the prescriptions are running low in the house? Well, here are some simple recommendations.
Number one, you may be able to find someone who is in a lower risk category than yourself and you can ask them to go pick up your prescriptions for you. You may also call the pharmacy to see if they have a mechanism of home pharmacy delivery. Many pharmacies even that did not have this service have now implemented this service during this pandemic experience. You can also talk with your primary care physician to make sure that you have authorized refills so that you don’t have to go to places to get a prescription filled.
Patients who have medications that are controlled substances that require a physician’s handwritten prescription – it’s important for you to communicate with your doctor so that they can make arrangements in the safest way possible to get you the prescription that you need. In the end, you need to continue to take those medications because they were prescribed for you for a reason. It is not a wise idea to ration your prescriptions. For example, if you’re taking a prescription as prescribed every day and now that you’re running low, you have decided to take the medication every other day or every third day, you run the risk of complications that could make your chronic condition even worse.
Instead, your best bet is to follow up with your primary care physician by telephone or virtual care experience and get guidance from there. If you come to the emergency department, again you will be waiting in a long line of patients waiting to be seen, often only to be told that we cannot refill your prescription. But now having exposed yourself to a multitude of patients who are potentially sick, some of which may in fact be infected with COVID-19. Instead, use your primary care resources and let them help guide you on what the right next step is.