Do I really need all those tests just to get a prescription refilled?

Health Q & A with Dr. Michael Jacobson, D.O.

From the July 2019 issue of Heartfelt Magazine.

Q: We are new members of CHM and I need to get a prescription refilled. I have called my OB and they require a pap smear, mammogram and office visit to get the prescription written in order to be filled again. They said this could range in price from $200-$1200 depending on the lab work costs. Is there any other way to get my prescription without all the costly testing?

A: Thank you for your question. Prescriptions generally must be written by a physician, nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant, depending on the laws in the state in which you reside. Physicians have unrestricted licenses to practice medicine. This means that unless the law says that a doctor cannot prescribe something, he/she is allowed to do so. Mid-level providers, such as nurses and physician assistants, have restricted licenses, which means that they can’t prescribe a particular medication or class of medication unless the law says they can.

Recommendations on testing before prescribing medication are typically based upon your risk factors, and length of time since your last test. These are not typically mandatory tests; however, they are usually recommended by professional societies, the consensus of which generally form what we refer to as the standard of care.

In order to get your prescription at a lower cost or with less testing you could try seeing another provider, especially a mid-level provider. You’ll want to bring a copy of your last prescription (available from your pharmacy if you still have the bottle) along with any other medications you may be taking. Additionally, bringing your medical records is helpful for them to determine any tests that are recommended, as well as potential contraindications.

If you have a health question for Dr. Jacobson, CHM Medical Director, please email it to This information is not intended to replace the advice of your physician.

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