Denied Insulin by a Doctor

A woman with Type 1 claims a doctor withheld a prescription even though she was running out of insulin.



Insulin Nation and CNN have reported on the death of Kevin Houdeshell, who died of diabetic ketoacidosis after he was denied a refill on an expired prescription of insulin. Houdeshell’s death prompted a new law in Ohio that gave pharmacists the right to refill expired prescriptions in certain cases.

There’s now a report out of Australia of a person with Type 1 diabetes who claims she was denied a prescription of insulin by a doctor, even as she pleaded with the doctor that she was running out of it. The important difference is that Amilia McFarland is still alive to lodge a complaint.

Read “They Wouldn’t Refill My Daughter’s Insulin Prescription.”

According to the report in The Daily Advertiser, a New South Wales newspaper, Ms. McFarland says she went to an after hours clinic run by Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network in Wagga Wagga because she was running low on insulin and couldn’t find her prescription. She had attempted to contact her regular doctor with no success, and she didn’t want to go to the emergency room, she says.

McFarland says the doctor there accused her of abusing the health care system. He also said she needed to organize her life better to prevent such a situation. She even claims he held out prescriptions for her and then pulled his hand back.

Read “Our Pharmacists Didn’t Store Insulin Properly.”

After the incident, a local pharmacist gave McFarland some insulin despite the fact that she lacked a prescription. Also, members of the local diabetes community reached out via social media to her to offer their insulin, according to the report. McFarland says it was heartening to have such support after the incident.

She says she wanted to go public with the story because she feared someone else may have the same problem with the doctor. The CEO of Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network said that the organization is aware of the incident and is investigating. Since January 20th, there have been no follow-up reports on the matter. An attempt to reach out to McFarland via Facebook for comment was unsuccessful.

As people with diabetes feel increasingly comfortable sharing their experiences on social media, we may hear of more stories like McFarland’s and Houdeshell’s, and see more changes in the law to protect people with diabetes. If you have been denied insulin in a situation that could have been life-threatening and would like to share your story, please email us at cidlebrook@epscomm.com.

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Craig Idlebrook is managing editor for Insulin Nation and Type 2 Nation. He's written about health policy, environmental health, community health, and maternal health for over 25 publications. You can reach him at cidlebrook@epscomm.com.