Costco Fixes Customer's Botched Electronic Prescription

If you get your prescriptions filled electronically, always double-check the dosage. Kimberly’s prescription was recently screwed up somewhere between the physician filling out the order online and Costco’s pharmacist receiving it. Luckily for her, the Costco pharmacist was incredibly helpful and fixed the problem for her, so Kimberly didn’t have to waste her copay or deal with the issue on her own. He also explained, however, that the current state of electronic prescriptions is a big mess.

I recently switched doctors because I didn’t like the first random doctor I picked after moving to Austin last year. My prescriptions from that doctor had one renewal left on them at the Costco pharmacy. My new doctor said if I had Costco fax him for refills, he’d have them all changed over to him, since he’d done my bloodwork already and determined that those prescriptions were fine to continue.

I phoned Costco and asked them to switch the prescriptions to the new doctor. They said it would be no problem, just to give them a few days to process it. I had planned for that anyway.

So at the end of that week I picked up the prescriptions while shopping at Costco with my family. As usual, I glanced at the list to make sure they were the right drugs. However, what I didn’t notice then – and actually didn’t notice until three days later when I went to use one – was that one of them was the right drug, wrong dosage. It was the 15mg version but I’m on the 30mg version. Of course, it was the brand-name, no-generic-available one so I’d paid the bigger $30 copay.

I phoned Costco the next morning and explained the problem to the pharmacist. I figured that since I had signed for the pickup and then taken three days to notice the error, that they’d a) tell me it was my new doctor’s fault and to call him myself, and b) too bad on the $30. I was wrong! The Costco pharmacist was extremely pleasant and helpful. He could see that they had faxed the request properly to the doctor, but said that the electronic prescription filing system my doctor uses (which is apparently a big national one) is highly prone to errors, and that the doctor had probably clicked on the wrong dosage in a list of choices. The pharmacist went on to say that they have tons of problems with that system, from wrong dosages like this to wrong directions to even the wrong patients with same or similar names. He said the system is set up in a way that makes errors easy.

But instead of telling me to go call my doctor, he said he’d take care of it for me. He said he’d fax the doctor again with a partial record to show that I had been on the 30mg for some time, and that he’d call me when he heard back from the doctor. He said if the doctor wouldn’t fix it, then I’d have to deal with them directly, but otherwise he’d take care of everything.

Since moving to the US from Canada 9 years ago, I’ve become sadly used to having to chase down medical/insurance problems all the time, spending hours on the phone at times just to resolve the most basic billing problems. I can’t fully express what it meant to me, even in this small instance, to have someone else say they’d handle it for me.

Happily, the doctor quickly replied to the pharmacist with the right dosage. I brought in the wrong pills and the receipt. They did the exchange at no cost to me at all.

Costco really stepped up to the plate for me on this. They took care of the hassle and the money when they didn’t have to do either. It may not have been a particularly dire issue, but it made me a very happy customer. I really shouldn’t be surprised, since we’ve had consistently excellent customer service from all departments at Costco, both here in Austin and when we lived in Las Vegas. Clearly, discount prices doesn’t have to mean discount service!

PS to Consumerist readers: if your doctor uses electronic prescription filing, be sure to check everything carefully! And don’t count on it being quick; I had to wait 18 hours once before a basic antibiotic prescription made it through the system because of backlog on a busy Monday when lots of prescriptions are sent in to the system.

(Photo: CarbonNYC)