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The New To-Do For Travel

Mar 22, 2016

A patient with diabetes gets her meds, prescribed by a nurse practitioner, from a national chain pharmacy in New York. She was planning travel to Hawaii. Patient did not refill her meds at home in New York before leaving for her travel in Hawaii because it was too early. Insurance would not pay until closer to the refill date. She thought she could wait until the time insurance would cover, go to a location where she was traveling and pick it up there. She’d done that during her travels in the past. It did not work in Hawaii.

It was Wednesday, she had one more day of medication left. According to the date, she could pick up her prescription that day. When she went to transfer the prescription to the Hawaii pharmacy, the pharmacist told her Hawaii does not accept out-of-state nurse practitioner prescriptions, but would accept an out-of-state prescription from an MD. It was 5 hours later in New York than in Hawaii, too late to contact someone in New York. She did not know a health care professional in Hawaii.
The patient contacted the NP in New York the next morning. The NP asked a NY MD to call in the prescription. Luckily, all went well.
Lessons Learned:
  • Take nothing for granted. Even though using a national chain pharmacy, not all prescriptions are transferable. Ask patients to call ahead of travel to make sure their prescriptions and prescribers are covered in the state they are traveling to.
  • Know the state law. Since laws are constantly changing, best to contact the state where your patients are traveling to find out if prescription can be transferred from one state to another. Know “whose” prescriptions will be accepted. Be proactive to make sure the prescriptions are written by a prescriber whose prescriptions will be accepted.
  • Get active. Help to unify prescribing laws in all states.
  • Back to basics of travel and diabetes. Bring more medications and supplies than needed for the time away. In many cases, insurance will cover if given enough notice. Teach your patients  to call early and make arrangements.
Joy Pape, FNP-C, CDE
Associate Medical Editor, Diabetes In Control
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