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Mom has glaucoma and has for several years been on Xalatan and Betoptic eye drops to treat the condition, but it has slowly gotten worse. A year and a half ago, her eye doctor tried a laser treatment and that did not work to improve her vision. So at that time he said there is nothing more he can do.

Now he/his office has refused to refill her prescriptions until she makes an appointment and comes in. She does not want to go -- it would be a morning appointment which is a hardship to her, he can't do anything more for her so she sees no reason to put herself through all that for "nothing". But she has to have the eye drops or her remaining eyesight is at risk, plus the physical condition of her eyes (pain and even potential rupture if inner eye pressure increases without the stabilizing effect of the eye drops).

Can an eye doctor legally withhold medications like these?

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We eventually signed up for a doctor who only visited the homebound and she prescribed all MEDS, including those prescribed by neurologist for dementia and its side effects.
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As my mom got older and it became harder to get her out , I did ask the primary to renew creams and other meds she had been taking for years. I explained to him that it was too hard for me to get her showered, dressed, fed, in/out of car, sitting in waiting room, then asked if there was anything new, ok, sounds good, come back in a year! Not worth the inconvenience to both me and mom. Primary agreed to renew cream/med under the agreement that if any changes occurred, I would go back to the heart/eye doctor. I also had frank discussions with the heart/gyn/oncologist docs (can't remember who wlse) and they all agreed that it was ok to not go to these appt. In the future. At one of the appts i flat out said we would not be back, too much and the doc said have primary prescribe the med. I would certainly ask primary if I were you. Good luck.
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This is a very frustrating situation. But here are some thoughts....

For the patient and family (caregivers), having to organize appointments around everything else that happens in life is hard. Then there is the financial aspects of the cost of meds, doctors office co-payments and insurance premiums as well as the possible loss of time at work for those involved. Plus there is the lack of control; we often feel that everyone else has more control over our lives and our time than we do. So many people telling us what we must do!! Gets very, very frustrating and I totally understand!!

As far as the doctor is concerned, he has a practice to run. Staff to pay, electricity, phone, internet, and all other expenses associated with a medical practice. And yes, he needs patients to come in so that he can earn the money he needs to pay those bills. Some doctors (sorry to say) are all about the money. But many are just trying to do the right thing. Just because someone has been on the same med for a long time doesn't mean that their overall health is the same or that the medication is still the correct one. If they give a loved one the wrong medication, some people will sue. If they don't require enough supervision, some people will sue. If there is an unexpected medication reaction, some people will sue. They often have to demand these follow-ups just to ensure that they have made the correct choice for this particular patient.

In conclusion: Assume he has your mothers best interest at heart. See your physicians as requested. If the office hours don't match your needs or personalities just conflict then seek the care of another qualified individual. Best wishes.
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This is a very frustrating situation. But here are some thoughts....

For the patient and family (caregivers), having to organize appointments around everything else that happens in life is hard. Then there is the financial aspects of the cost of meds, doctors office co-payments and insurance premiums as well as the possible loss of time at work for those involved. Plus there is the lack of control; we often feel that everyone else has more control over our lives and our time than we do. So many people telling us what we must do!! Gets very, very frustrating and I totally understand!!

As far as the doctor is concerned, he has a practice to run. Staff to pay, electricity, phone, internet, and all other expenses associated with a medical practice. And yes, he needs patients to come in so that he can earn the money he needs to pay those bills. Some doctors (sorry to say) are all about the money. But many are just trying to do the right thing. Just because someone has been on the same med for a long time doesn't mean that their overall health is the same or that the medication is still the correct one. If they give a loved one the wrong medication, some people will sue. If they don't require enough supervision, some people will sue. If there is an unexpected medication reaction, some people will sue. They often have to demand these follow-ups just to ensure that they have made the correct choice for this particular patient.

In conclusion: Assume he has your mothers best interest at heart. See your physicians as requested. If the office hours don't match your needs or personalities just conflict then seek the care of another qualified individual. Best wishes.
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You need to find a new opthamalogist (not an optician!), who may know of a treatment that was not available when she was first diagnosed!
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My mom was moved to memory care three months ago. This facility has geriatricians, opthamologists and dentists that come to see patients regularly. There may be other sorts of docs too, but these are the ones I know about. Very convenient for all concerned!
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AZ, there are always new meds coming on the market. Mom's eyes may have changed. Dont let mom drive the bus; you need to be making clearheaded medical decisions, not those driven by her incontinence and perhaps diminishing cognition. Find a closer doctor.
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Azlife, that "nothing more we can do" is just a catch phrase, meaning no cure - but NOT no treatment or management. And I'm telling you firsthand, strange things can happen that you would not medically expect, like subtle adverse reactions that eventually become obvious but would have been caught sooner if appointments had been kept. I am sorry it is inconvenient, but it really is necessary, and you should not be asking the doc to just keep prescribing without a visit if they think its overdue. Bear in mind, you got what sounded like a cold hearted answer from the staff, because really, you ARE accusing their doctor of scheduling unnecessary visits with the implication that they are profiteering from it. Once or even twice a year is not out of line for something like this.
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Doctors MUST see the patients at some reasonable frequency to be able to continue Rx responsibly, and in some cases they even have to add the date last seen to certain forms; beyond just self-protection legally, bad outcomes may occur if they do not.
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I can understand the need for seeing a patient periodically when the medical condition is subject to change that could or would require a change in treatment. But when Mom was told by her eye doctor that there is nothing more he can do, why would she need to be seen again. And again, etc. YES, her glaucoma will get worse, she knows that. But there's nothing more the doctor can do for it. Other than continue to prescribe the same exact medications she has been using for the past 8 years (at least). So she'll go to see him -- long drive, sitting around waiting between the tests he will run and worrying about her incontinence, long drive back. It will take her about 2 days to recover from the exhaustion. All for him to do nothing more than re-initiate those same prescriptions.

I had requested the doctor to call me himself. Instead, a young fella from the doctor's "team" returned my call. I asked him, what if Mom was bedridden and could not actually even come in for an appointment, and he said "Well, you'd have to find an eye doctor who makes house calls, then." He also brought up the idea that we could maybe get the prescriptions from Canada. I didn't say anything to that because I knew nothing about the subject, but upon doing some reading I think it was a pretty irresponsible thing for him to say, since obtaining some prescriptions from other countries is illegal and since even so Mom would need a prescription from her eye doctor, which they are not willing to provide in the first place without seeing her.

There is a slightly closer eye doctor with whom we may be able to get an afternoon appointment, will check that out tomorrow and see if Mom is willing to change doctors.
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Not refilling prescriptions is common, and necessary practice especially with elderly. So many things can change over the course of a year. And I also believe insurance requires at a minimum yearly visits if you want coverage for meds. It would be irresponsible for any doctor to prescribe without seeing the patient. For all the doc knows, she may not even be alive any more. I'm sure insurance companies see that sort of fraud all the time.
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It would irresponsible for a doctor to continue to issue repeat prescriptions without following up on the patient. If your mother hasn't been seen for a year and a half, that's long enough. I can sympathise with the morning appointment being an issue: you can either argue - try special pleading and see if they'll make an exception for you and give her a later appointment - or find a more amenable optician.
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My understanding is that prescriptions cannot legally be refilled beyond a specified time period. Might not be a bad idea to check out another opthamalogist; the change in hours and location gives you an excuse. Might even ask the current dr for a referral.
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It happens here too. I had to take my 95 year old mom back to the cardiologist before he'd renew her prescriptions. They said they have to do it. I think it also has to do with insurance payments.
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My sig other has glaucoma and he sees his eye doctor twice a year even after having the successful laser treatment on his eyes. He sees nothing wrong with that, as glaucoma can return and the pressure within the eye can change. Better to catch any changes now.

As for refilling prescriptions, that is common in my area no matter who is the doctor that you need to see the doctor at least once a year, otherwise the prescription might not be filled.....

One's medication from a variety of doctors can change during the year. And if the patient isn't using one pharmacy it is difficult for that pharmacy to know about everything that patient is taking. At least with a yearly or twice a year visit, the doctors can catch up on the medication list, and spot what might be a dangerous mix.
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Doctors do have to see patients at least once a year in order to write prescriptions. Many opthamologists will schedule appointments every 6 months. This is normal procedure. I take my mother in every four months now. Why they schedule her so often, I don't know. This is one doctor she sees by herself. I'm just the chauffeur, so don't manage anything about these appointments.
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I'm with GA, time to look for a younger doctor closer to home. The younger ones are also more apt to be up on the latest treatments.
As for insisting on an office visit to renew prescriptions, I think a lot of that has to do with their ability to bill for a visit vs just ordering a script. My mom's doc was forever dragging her heels renewing prescriptions until I stated making appointments to come in and see her myself and get the renewal as a 'consult'.
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If she is on medication for high blood pressure, she may not need the glaucoma drops. Look that up on WebMD or Drugs website.
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Have you considered changing doctors? After reading your second post I'm wondering if that would be better for you and your mother.

It sounds as though he may be heading toward retirement if he's cutting back his hours, unless he's teaching or involved in some other medical activity.
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Well, I thought of that too, but she has been using these same exact eye drops at the same exact prescription levels and dosages for the last 8 years at least, and of course her eyes changed during that time but he has never altered these prescriptions or prescribed anything else. She used to see him about twice a year, but other than the laser treatment he tried, he has never done anything else or changed her prescriptions. And now it's a hardship for her.

He only does morning hours now for seeing patients, and at his farthest location (from us). He used to do afternoon hours and also see patients at a closer location to us.
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I hardly think he's "withholding" medications. Any doctor has a right to see a patient before refilling scripts.

He probably wants to check for any changes and/or deterioration, which may or may not affect the prescription he writes.

Someone's eyesight is worth making a few sacrifices. Is there any reason why the appointment couldn't be in the afternoon?
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