Medicare oversees doctors’ referral and prescribing patterns and doctors can be prosecuted if they contravene Medicare guidelines for appropriate practice. Most people are completely unaware of this and assume it is a simple matter for doctors to generate repeat scripts and referrals. Not so!
Most ongoing prescriptions e.g. for Contraception, Blood Pressure, Diabetes, Heart disease, Menopause treatment, Osteoporosis, etc last between 6 and 12 months.
So this would mean you would need to come in every 6 or 12 months (once or twice per year) to be checked.
This is sensible and not excessive.
Therefore, if this is the type of script you are asking for, you will need to make an appointment.
Sometimes people ring to ask about prescriptions for antibiotics. This would never be done without seeing you and examining you.
The same goes for sleeping tablets and tablets for anxiety or depression.
Reception staff report that many times patients will ring up and be very impatient with the notion that the doctor wants them to come in for an appointment. Why would your doctor want to see you? Here are a few points for you to consider:
– Is this the correct medication for you still? Or are there newer agents that would work better?
– Are you suffering any side effects that you may not even know about?
– Is your underlying condition still the same? Or have things changed? For example, is your blood pressure higher or lower than it used to be?
– Have you had any up-to-date blood tests or x-rays or been examined to see what your health status actually is?
– Have you developed some new conditions since this prescription was first issued, and does this new condition and it’s treatment interact with your old medications?
– Is there a newer or better way of treating your condition?
– Are there health initiatives that your doctor could explore with you that could make a real difference? For example, lifestyle measures such as stress management, relaxation, weight loss, dietary exclusions and/ or targeted exercise programs might reduce your need for medications.
– New information or evidence may have come to light since your were last seen, which might indicate that we should change your prescription.
– You may have been started on a new medication by a specialist and we may know nothing about it, and/or the specialist may know nothing about your other conditions and medications and a review is needed.
Because here at BHWC we are actually aiming to keep drug prescriptions to a minimum, we are trying to be your partners in best possible care. That means we want to engage in a conversation with you and an ongoing dialogue with you about reaching health goals and having as few prescriptions as possible, within reason.
So in view of all of the above, the question that should be asked is why would you ever not come in for an appointment, not the reverse?
Things do happen of course, such as people lose their prescriptions, have their handbags or wallets stolen, or are making an unexpected trip and haven’t scheduled sufficient time to make an appointment. Rest assured that we will never let you run out of vital medications, but if you haven’t been seen within the reasonable timeframes as stated above, it may be that the doctors will issue a prescription that will last one or two months only, and this will give you time to plan ahead and make a proper appointment.
If an appointment is not required, a non rebatable fee of $25 is charged to cover the doctor’s administrative time.
Please allow 24 to 48 hours notice for your repeat script or referral letter to be ready for collection from reception. Also it is sensible for you to call to make sure it has been done before you come in to collect it , otherwise you may arrive before your request has been processed.
If despite reading the above material in detail, you still have a major issue with this policy, please put your concerns in writing to Dr Carmel O’Toole and she will address them. Please don’t be angry or impatient with reception staff, who are doing a demanding job in a busy environment.
As you can see from reading the above information, when you come in to see the doctor it could end up being a complex consultation. If that is the case, you will be billed for a standard consultation.
Very occasionally, if things can be dealt with rapidly, without complexity and the doctor is able to update your records in a brief time, the fee charged may result in an out of pocket cost to you of less than $20.00.