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December 10, 2011 5:09 AM   Subscribe

What's the best way to handle medically-related mistaken phone calls?

Twice within a few months I've received automated calls from a pharmacy letting me know that my prescription was ready to be picked up. Both calls were from a pharmacy that I've never been to so obviously they were misdials. Out of concern for the anonymous person who may have been urgently awaiting their medicine, both times I've called back to let the pharmacy know that a mistake had been made. Neither effort proved remotely productive and the last time the staff person who answered the phone actually got rude about it because I wouldn't give them my name. This is a pharmacy in a grocery store that I've never been to. They'd have no reason to have my name so I didn't see the point in giving it to him to look up. The previous time I called they asked for my phone number and when they looked it up in their records they didn't find it. Well, duh.

Is there a better way to handle these calls? Should I just stop trying to do a good deed and ignore them?
posted by fuse theorem to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This has happened to me. I think you should call to set them straight any time it happens. A moment or two of annoyance is worth it if it means possibly eliminating the delay for someone who needs a prescription.
posted by headnsouth at 5:16 AM on December 10, 2011

I would imagine that if someone is waiting for medication and didn't hear back in some reasonable length of time, they would call the pharmacy to find out what's what. I would just ignore the calls, unless they become so frequent as to be really annoying.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:30 AM on December 10, 2011 [6 favorites]

Call the manager and tell them they're causing HIPAA violations. Not really true, but it certainly gets health-care-involved people to perk up and listen.
posted by mittens at 7:41 AM on December 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

Whenever I've gotten repeated calls for someone else (no matter what the situation actually was) I just told them that they're reaching the wrong person, they won't get anywhere by continuing to call me or this number, and that I really hope the person they're actually trying to reach causes a big enough stink about their incompetence to get them fired. Then I hang up and save their number in my phone under a general "Do Not Answer" name.
posted by theichibun at 8:02 AM on December 10, 2011

We only get those calls for automatic refills. I have no idea if that's universal or just a fluke, but when I call in a prescription myself, they just tell me then when it'll be ready for pickup. It's the ones that are on an automated refill schedule that we get the calls for, but at least for us, they're pretty much unnecessary. So I'm hoping that the intended party isn't really suffering from this.

The wrong number thing is bad, though. I get a LOT of wrong number calls, and I've gotten some very hostile responses, too, to telling people they've got the wrong number. One guy's work kept calling my cell phone, and when I told someone that she had the wrong number, she said, "I don't think you understand! I am his SUPERVISOR!" It was as though she assumed that I knew the guy or something, and was being recalcitrant. When I laughed at her and said, "No, YOU don't understand..." she changed her tune a little.

I think if you call, make it very clear to them that they have the wrong contact information for one of their customers, they might be able to search on the phone number field and get to it. And if you can't, just forget about it. If the intended person is expecting the calls and not getting them, it's on them to sort it out. (They're probably the one who gave them the wrong number anyway.)
posted by ernielundquist at 8:23 AM on December 10, 2011

A few years ago, I changed my home phone number. Nastygrams from the creditors of the former holder of the number ensued. One woman, who was seemingly a not very close friend of that person, called periodically, leaving long, rambling messages, for a couple of years. (My greeting on my voicemail is my voice, so the solo caller really must have been oblivious.)

I learned quickly to screen calls, letting calls from unknown numbers go to voicemail. I deleted mistaken-identity messages. If I strayed from that path, I generally paid a price. Not much has changed.

You aren't responsible for others' oversights. Sometimes if you stay out of a matter, someone else learns a valuable lesson, maybe about taking care of their personal affairs better.
posted by Currer Belfry at 8:58 AM on December 10, 2011

I don't get calls for the wrong person, but I get important-seeming emails in Spanish for the wrong person, who shares my first initial and last name (and my email is my first initial and last name).

I replied to the first dozen or so, explaining in English and Spanish (via google translate and my high school Spanish) that they had the wrong email address, but the emails continued. Now I just delete them.

So, I would call a couple more times, and try to get it corrected. If someone is rude to you, just hang up on them - it's not worth your time. If the calls continue, ignore them and/or bock the number from your phone.
posted by insectosaurus at 9:50 AM on December 10, 2011

Do you have selective call block on your phone? Block that number.

That may get it flagged in the automated dialing system for a follow up when the person comes in to pick up an Rx. This is all systems talking to systems. You need to do something so the dialing system understands this is the wrong number.
posted by 26.2 at 12:59 PM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

A few years ago, a social housing authority somehow put my number on record for one of their landlords. I would come home to urgent messages asking me to repair leaks in a disabled tenant's flat, etc. Phoning them back and explaining they'd called the wrong number never helped, so I eventually found the authority's web site and sent an e-mail to their chief executive. He must have told the staff to go through their records till they found my number, because the calls stopped after that. If calling the pharmacy hasn't worked, you may want to state the problem in writing and address it to someone higher up.
posted by Perodicticus potto at 3:54 PM on December 11, 2011

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