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JLeslie's avatar

Has anyone ever tried to change the law that hospitals can't give a patient drugs for a few days at the time of discharge?

Asked by JLeslie (54594points) September 2nd, 2014

I know it has to do with pharmacy licensing laws.

In America when you leave the hospital you need to make a stop at a drug store if you need any medication. The hospital discharges you without any meds to take. So, if you are doped up from meds or in a lot of pain, if you want to get your medication you still need to take the time and go to an outside pharmacy while you very lucky are still feeling very badly and are barely recovered enough to leave the hospital.

They release psychiatric patients without meds for the next day. Missing one day of medication can be a very big deal for some.

I think it is just awful! It really bothers me.

I was wondering if there ever has been a bill or some sort of move in congress to change the laws surrounding this. It makes no sense.

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19 Answers

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Pharmacy laws for hospital discharge in some states allow up to 30 days of meds. Part of the issue is the large chain drugs stores don’t want to lose revenue and have asked and received laws for restricting the sale of meds through hospital pharmacies to “walk-up” patients.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I haven’t heard of this before. I’ve walked out of hospitals with drugs. Is NY different from FL?

zenvelo's avatar

All of my times dealing with hospitals the hospital pharmacy filled the prescription. When I was released after a five day recovery following a broken leg and surgery, I was given 60 codeine/Tylenol to take home.

snowberry's avatar

It’s been a long time since we needed to do that, but I remember many years ago being able to fill prescriptions right at the hospital pharmacy. I guess things have changed?

Darth_Algar's avatar

Anytime I’ve ever been discharged from the hospital with a prescription it’s been filled right there at the hospital pharmacy.

trailsillustrated's avatar

I never knew this either. I had surgery in South Africa and went home with a box of meds. I think it would be the same in Australia too. I do know that in America someone had to make a trip to the hospital chemist to get the meds, usually on discharge day.

JLeslie's avatar

Your responses are very interesting! Thank you for your answers. When I was discharged from a Georgia hospital after I was banged up terribly in a horrible accident they sent me off with just prescriptions, no meds at discharge. Of course, the 24 hour Walgreens is across from the hospital. In TN we discharged patients from the psych hospital with prescriptions, not meds. My sister, who works In NYC has said in the past the problem is the hospital would need a certain type of dispensing certification or whatever you call it, which they can get if they want it, so my assumption was most NY hospitals also don’t dispense meds to the patients when they are discharged, but the laws might have changed since, or more hospitals might have all the licensing now.

As far as FL, I am not sure, I haven’t been hospitalized in a long time, and I don’t remember what happened years ago. FL and some other states also have rules like labs cannot release lab results directly to patients while states like NY allow it.

@Tropical_Willie Yes, of course it is big business and their lobby trying to keep a corner on the market. I would bet that the AMA lobbies against releasing labs to patients directly, which I mentioned inbthe paragraph just above.

LuckyGuy's avatar

In some cases the doc will prescribe the meds a week or so ahead of time so you can have them filled and in hand before you drive home. (NY)

Darth_Algar's avatar

@JLeslie “My sister, who works In NYC has said in the past the problem is the hospital would need a certain type of dispensing certification or whatever you call it, which they can get if they want it, so my assumption was most NY hospitals also don’t dispense meds to the patients when they are discharged, but the laws might have changed since, or more hospitals might have all the licensing now.”

Well yes, a hospital would need a pharmacy license in order to fill prescriptions. That just seems kind of obvious.

gailcalled's avatar

@LuckyGuy: No surgeon in MA. will give any of us scripts for Vicodin or Percocet until they have stitched or stapled us up and had a brief chat to insure that we were feeling really crappy.

People cancel or reschedule their surgeries all the time.

JLeslie's avatar

@Darth_Algar To dispense drugs for discharge. That’s what the Q is about. Obviously, all hospitals prescribe while the patient is in the hospital.

Darth_Algar's avatar


Yes. Do you think I am unaware of that the question pertains to?

JLeslie's avatar

@Darth_Algar I am saying there are two types of licenses from what I understand. At least in some states. One is for prescribing while a patient is inpatient. The other is for prescribing like a drug store would. You need the drug store license to fill a 7 day script for instance.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Um, yes @JLeslie. That’s what I said.

LuckyGuy's avatar

My neighbor just had surgery about 2 weeks ago and she told us that’s how her doc did it. We all were raving about how convenient that was. I do not know what she was given . Maybe that is the difference. I can ask her.

gailcalled's avatar

Ask her about dosage also. 5 Vicodins is different from a month’s supply.

Last yeat when I was in rehab for three weeks after knee surgery, at my discharge, I was given the rest of my pain meds. to take home. that my insurance had prepaid. They were in blister packs; 50 or so Percoset and a similar amount of Tramadol. This was in MA. Several weeks worth. A lot of signatures necessary before the discharge nurse gave them to me.

JLeslie's avatar

Good point, maybe a few days is different than giving 30 days worth.

For me, in GA, I was hospitalized at night, it was already pitch black out, I could not walk alone, my husband had to help me go to the bathroom, I was still in significant pain and visibly bruised, couldn’t wear clothing that was tight in any way, and they did not send me out of the hospital with a single pill. It would have been nice to have just a few to get me through that night and even the next day. We were out of state and had to drive home 8 hours.

In TN my psych hospital discharged people who had just been through serious depression, a psychotic schizophrenic break, all sorts of serious issues, and taking their medicine was very important and they were not given a pill. Some of the people were very poor and just making sure they had a ride to where they needed to go after discharge, sometimes a homeless shelter, was a big deal. Having them worry about getting to a pharmacy that day of discharge seemed pretty awful to me.

My husband had a kidney stone several months ago and the ER gave him a small prescriptions to fill, they didn’t just give him the five pills. I would think the hospital would love to sell them. In that situation I prefer to get the drugs from an outside pharmacy since the hospital would rob me on the price, but that’s a different topic.

jca's avatar

Times I’ve had surgery the doctor gave me a prescription ahead of time so I could fill it and have it ready. Only twice have I been in the ER or had family in the ER and neither time did we need a medication upon discharge.

snowberry's avatar

I seem to remember maybe 30 years ago when we were in the Emergency room and there was no all night pharmacy in the area that we were allowed to fill our prescriptions at the hospital.

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