PROBE: November 26, 2001

November 26, 2001

QUESTION: Those of us who use non-addictive maintenance medications have a heckuva time getting our doctors to call the pharmacy to OK refills. The pharmacist says you should allow 48 hours for approval. If the doctor is out of town, it may take a week.

Vons pharmacy is really good about lending you a few pills while you wait for your refill. However, you still have to make another trip out there. That may be inconvenient if you have to depend on rides to the grocery store. — Tired of Hassle, El Centro

Everything about taking prescription drugs is a hassle. But when you reach an age where a sackful of Lopressor, Prinival and Ibuprofen are your drugs of choice, you have to expect some inconvenience.

Not every doctor takes 48 or even 24 hours to approve a prescription. Before you chastise anybody, find the plug in your prescription pipeline.


Talk to your doctor's staff and find out his procedure for returning calls to pharmacies for refills. One pharmacy reported it calls in requests for refills approval every morning and most doctors respond in a couple hours. But every doctor's office has its own way of dealing with refills.

Some doctors take 48 hours to respond. One San Diego doctor may take 72 hours. Most doctors arrange for another one to be "on call" when the original doctor goes on vacation. Virtually no doctors leave their patients unattended for a week.

If this is an important issue for you, and you can't work it out, consider finding another doctor. Here's another take on drugs.

QUESTION: What's the difference between the drugs old people take and "controlled substances" favored by the young? — Curious, Seeley

Generally, a "controlled substance" is habit-forming and subject to abuse. As far as we know, nobody takes blood-pressure pills and blood thinners for recreation. If they do, they are going to be disappointed.

On the other hand, some old people like Viagra but that's not a controlled substance.

QUESTION: At work we have been discussing the recent PROBE item regarding the use of the handicapped parking zone by the owner of Driscoll's Sports.

Is it legal to park in a handicapped zone if all other spaces are filled? Is it legal for someone to park in a handicapped zone if they own the lot? If not, will Driscoll continue to park in the lot, and if so, will El Centro police cite Driscoll if he continues to park in the slot?

Wouldn't it make more sense for Driscoll to mark a space "reserved" for his use than usurp a handicapped space? — Advocate-for-the-Disabled, El Centro

The last time we talked to Mark Driscoll, he said he would park across the street in the Valley Plaza parking lot and walk to his shop.

He knows it's not legal to park in a handicapped space even if the spaces are seldom used and even if you own the lot.

But we understand why he would be reluctant to "reserve" another parking space in a lot where parking is scarce. When a potential customer can't find a parking place, the customer will drive to a store where it's easier to park.

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