The Seekers


“My father is a patient of your partner’s. He’s leaving on a plane out of the country for his sister’s funeral and needs his medications refilled or he will run out!” She listed off a narcotic and a benzodiazepine and a blood pressure medication.

Technically, we have a policy not to prescribe narcotics, controlled substances, or antibiotics after hours. Sometimes the rules need to be broken, though. A funeral emergency would qualify.

I got the name and date of birth from her as I waited for the computer to finish booting up. Hurriedly, I typed in the info then hit search.

No go.

Thinking maybe I had misspelled or entered a typo, I asked her to repeat it.

Still nothing.

“He was just in there on Tuesday. There must be something wrong with your computer.”

I pulled up that physician’s schedule for the day in question and scanned though it. Nothing even remotely similar.

Perhaps she was mistaken.

“What pharmacy does he use?”

I got the info and told her I would call back. My thought was to see of my partner had ever prescribed medication for this fellow before, but truthfully I already knew the answer.

“Does this fellow ever get meds filled at your pharmacy?”

The woman on the other end of the line was silent as she looked him up.

“No…. But you are the third physician calling about this guy in the past two hours.”


There are two kinds of drug seekers: the personally addicted and the professionals who probably sell what they get. Often I find that the personally addicted are sloppy, as they are typically the ones screaming “F- YOU!” through the phone. Their need gets in the way of calculation. Yet both types get more and more sophisticated as technology improves.

Major holidays are a favorite time for the professional seekers in particular. They are not stupid. They know that the odds are that physicians are less likely to be near a computer and the EHR (Electronic Health Record) during this time as we try to maintain some normalcy on call while celebrating as much as we can with our families.

I get to be on call for Christmas this year. There will no doubt be several of these calls. It’s par for the course. Fortunately, I have the ability to remotely access my EHR…


44 thoughts on “The Seekers

  1. Guess i won’t hit you up on Christmas then πŸ˜‰

    I’m just a regular Joe, but I do love the EHR. Makes it very difficult for certain relatives I know to keep up their habits, plus it doesn’t matter if my own memory sucks when it comes to whatever I took a couple years ago that helped with xyz.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As long as you’re on-call anyway, could you maybe FedEx some of those narcotics to me? I think I may really need them this year. If you need ID, I could post a picture of me pulling my hair out.

    Yes, I know that’s not even remotely funny, but I’ve known people who would try anything. Personally, I’m happy with a little wine.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours! Hope Santa is good to all of you, and that your on-call hours are quiet.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Working in oral surgery we had so many ‘seekers’ that we got really good at picking them out. I even nabbed one in the middle of trying to get her 4 year old daughter to steal her records from us (we had electronic and paper at the time) listing all the scripts we had written for her already. Did she really think that we wouldn’t notice an entire page of records missing…that was a fun one.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I did workers comp case management for a while and loved looking at the urine results on patient prescribed narcotics for back injuries. No opiates on a urine screen and a bill from the pharmacy for narcotics = me writing an interesting letter to a usually overworked physician.” Dear Doctor ______, We are curious as to where the pills are going as they are not going in your patient’s body.” Catching people is kind of fun sometimes.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Pingback: My Article Read (12-23-2014) (12-24-2014) | My Daily Musing

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