Can a Doctor Cancel a Prescription? Here’s What They Can Do!

Posted September 2, 2020 by Michael Chamberlain - See Editorial Guidelines

Ever had a prescription canceled? What to know if a doctor is allowed to cancel your prescription once it’s issued?

Here’s the guide on the question can a doctor cancel a prescription. But first, the quick takeaway answer, then we’ll dive into some details…

Can a doctor cancel your prescription? A doctor can legally cancel your prescription. But a doctor can only cancel it before the prescription is filled at a pharmacy. Electronic prescriptions are canceled easily as prescribers and pharmacies are connected to real-time systems. Canceling written prescriptions is often unsuccessful.

But for what reasons can a doctor cancel a prescription? And what happens after that? Let’s explore this further…

Can a doctor cancel a prescription? Is it legal?

As we mentioned above, a doctor can cancel a prescription and it is perfectly legal for them to do so.

But the doctor can cancel a prescription-only before it’s filled. Meaning it can be canceled only up to the point you present it to the pharmacy and collect the medications the doctor gave you.

When a prescription is canceled you won’t then be able to fill or obtain the medications for the prescription the doctor gave you – until you have restarted the process. 

A doctor writes a prescription to treat your medical condition because the doctor is entitled to issue a prescription due to his/her knowledge and experience in the profession.

So at the point that a prescription is issued, it’s ultimately the responsibility of the doctor to ensure the filling of the prescription and the treatment using the prescribed medications is safe and effective to the patient.

Meaning, if you fill a prescription from the doctor and then face any unpleasant health effects, side effects, or any related medical concerns because of the prescribed medications, then the doctor is potentially responsible – depending on a variety of circumstances.

Facing such an issue, could temporarily or permanently terminate the doctor’s or the practice’s license – and could also mean the doctor is subjected to a felony charge, or other charges.

This is why your doctor often asks you if you’re allergic to certain medications and takes into account other medical conditions you may be going through, before prescribing medications. 

So it’s certainly legal for a doctor to cancel your prescription. However, you would probably want to know why your doctor might cancel your prescription. 

Why a doctor might cancel your prescription

There are plenty of reasons why your doctor can cancel your prescription. Some of the most common reasons are as follows.

  • A doctor can make mistakes. If it becomes apparent that a doctor has made an error, your doctor can cancel the prescription.
  • In the event that your doctor finds out that they have prescribed conflicting medications.
  • If your doctor realizes that a prescribed medication could adversely interact with allergies you spoke about with our doctor.
  • When filling the prescription, if your pharmacist informs the doctor of possible allergies based on previous and accessible medical records. 
  • If the doctor receives information about your records indicating prescription abuse, forgeries, or other suspicious circumstances. This can also happen if the doctor finds out you’re blacklisted in certain pharmacies.
  • If the pharmacist realizes the doctor hasn’t considered other medical conditions in your medical records when prescribing certain interactive medications, the pharmacist can verify this with the doctor. 

A note regarding the last point, if the doctor feels your prescription needs to be altered or changed or a new one has to be issued, then your doctor can cancel the prescription.

This often happens when you fail to discuss other medical conditions with your doctor before the medications are prescribed.

However, canceling a prescription takes two forms, and a successful prescription canceling depends on the process of each of them.

Canceling an electronic prescription

Canceling an e-prescription is the most successful form of canceling a prescription.

This is because the data and information are linked to a central system, where the doctor can inform pharmacies to cancel prescriptions in real-time.

So when a prescription is canceled, in most pharmacy systems, the prescription will read as canceled and the pharmacists will not be able to access the prescription details.

Either the whole prescription or individual medication can be canceled – or a new prescription can be generated, signed, and issued.

A new prescription can be sent to your nominated pharmacy. But it’s important that they inform the patient (you) of such cancelations and changes to avoid any confusion. 

If a repeat prescription is canceled, all outstanding prescriptions issued will also be canceled along with this action. 

It is possible to cancel certain individual items that have been prescribed. If the doctor cancels the prescription after the pharmacist has downloaded it, then the cancellation will likely be unsuccessful.

This is unless the doctor is able to intercept the physical delivery of the prescription at the pharmacy, or if the pharmacist calls the doctor to verify something on the prescription and the doctor instructs them to cancel it.

Canceling a written prescription

If your doctor wishes to cancel a written prescription that was handed to you, then canceling it tends not to work most of the time.

The cancellation works only if the pharmacy you’re filling the prescription at is in the usual chain of pharmacies your doctor is aware of and they can estimate that’s where you’re going to fill the prescription.

If your chosen pharmacy is not in that chain, then the prescription cancellation may not work as pharmacy systems rarely link outside a specific chain.

So if you have a written prescription, it’s rare for the pharmacy to know it’s been canceled. But if the pharmacy calls the doctor to verify an aspect of the prescription, then the doctor can instruct them to cancel it.

Do not try to fill a prescription that you know the doctor has canceled. If, for example, the doctor (or doctor’s office) contacts you to say the prescription is canceled and to get a new one

Prescriptions are canceled for a reason, so you would not want to fill a canceled prescription as first of all this could be harmful to your health. And secondly, the doctor will eventually find out you’ve filled it and could take further action.

Eventually, everyone involved in your medical care will know if you’ve filled a canceled prescription. Whether that’s another doctor you go to, the doctor that canceled the prescription, or the pharmacy you filled the prescription at. Let’s explain how this happens…

Systems that screen controlled medication prescriptions

Government programs exist in every state of the United States, Known as “Prescription Monitoring Programs” or “Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs”.

Their job is to track the dispensing of controlled substances and monitor potential drug abuse.

Although the law may vary for different states, every pharmacist and prescriber are legally required to report the dispensing of controlled medications to their state monitoring program.

All authorized health professionals can access the system to prevent prescription drug abuse and drug diversion.

Alongside this, many states require the doctor who prescribes controlled medications to check this monitoring database before writing a prescription.

If you want to see this data you can’t directly access the data. Individual patients simply need to submit a request to their doctor to obtain their information from the system.

To finish

We hope this has answered the question “can a doctor cancel a prescription”. If in any doubt, always seek the advice of your doctor, physician, or pharmacist before taking any further action.

Being able to afford those prescriptions is another matter. If you’re struggling to afford your prescriptions, then you could use our help. At Prescription Hope, we can process a simple application towards providing your meds for just $50 per month per medication.

We work with over 180 pharmaceutical manufacturers and utilize their patient assistance programs to provide you with a flat-rate cost for your medication. Enroll with us to find out if you are eligible to pay only $50 a month for each of your medications.



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