I am considering becoming a patient at SFP and I wish to get acquainted.

Thank you for your consideration. We hope this website is helpful and adequate, however some may feel it is necessary to see the office and one of the providers. This can be arranged during Lunch Hour or after hours. Your medical questions should NOT be fielded because no medical record will be kept.

May I be seen the same day I call?

Yes, especially if you call between 8am-9am. Every day there are several slots set aside for "urgent care appointments". Also, appointments may open up later in the day due to cancellations that occur. We try not to "double book" out of consideration for those who have appointments.

How can I best prepare myself for an appointment?

If the appointment is regarding a chronic condition, then bringing your prescription and non-prescription medications to the appointment is very helpful. Also it is helpful to compile all relevant information including:

  • the names and dosage information of all medications
  • how you are tolerating your medication
  • whether a specialist has changed dosage or discontinued or started new medication or treatment
  • how you are coping with your medical condition overall
  • any questions or suggestions as to how your doctor can better serve you

For an acute problem, it is helpful to be able to specify:

  • when symptoms first appeared
  • what may have precipitated the condition
  • what seems to aggravate or alleviate the condition

Please plan to arrive at least 15 minutes before your appointment time to complete necessary paperwork and payment. This will also allow time for reception and nursing duties to be adequately performed. We carefully schedule appointment times and procedures according to the time required for each patient. Late arrival of patients is the chief reason the doctor gets behind schedule.

How do I cancel or reschedule an appointment?

Please note that a charge will be made for all broken appointments unless a 24-hour notice is given. If you cannot make your appointment please notify us within 24 hours of your appointment time in order to avoid being charged. This policy helps us to schedule another patient in the time slot. "No-Shows" are considered late cancellations and are also subject to the cancellation fee.

If I call in the evening or on weekends who will field my call?

When you call after hours a recording will prompt you to the “on call” physician. Dr. Farrell is on rotation with other family physicians including Drs. Randy Burchell, Angela Condy, Ken Hill, Brian Izzo, Ken Schwartz, and Paul O’Kosky. For an emergency, call 911 or go to an emergency room. For urgent medical problems, you can go to Wilton Medical Arts (580-2232) or Malta Medical Arts (289-2025). Note: Medical insurance co-pays may vary and be higher at these facilities than medcial office co-pays.

Why do I have to wait to be seen?

It is important to know that both the clinical and clerical personnel at SFP do not want our patients to wait. We have taken and continue to take measures to minimize the wait for patients. This effort requires the help of all patients.

Some steps that each patient can and should take are:

  • Be early for an appointment in case forms need to be completed
  • Stick to the purpose of the appointment. What commonly puts the doctor behind is the proverbial, “Oh by the way”….
  • Be organized for the appointment. Know your medications and bring the bottles with you.
  • If you have difficulty remembering, have the doctor write out the instructions.

Finally, we ask all patients to be understanding for we do try to five the utmost care and service. We will give you the same careful attention as well.

Why can't I request a 30 minute appointment? I am always given a 15 minute appointment.

This is a very understandable request and one we wish could be granted. The Practice accepts medical insurance for payment of services rendered. This fee structure is based upon the completion of a medical visit and the insurance defines the condition to determine complexity. Simply taking more time does not meet the insurance company's description of complexity.

Unlike other professionals (lawyers and accountants), primary care physicians are not paid by time spent with you nor by the time completing your medical record. Adding on multiple questions in a 15 minute time allotment is problematic. This dilemma may change in the future with the new, evolving concept, Patient Centered Medical Home or by making an additional appointment.

What can I expect during a physical?

Performing a complete physical exam gives the doctor the opportunity to evaluate the patient’s overall health in a holistic capacity. The exams are age and gender specific. It is the prime method to initiate preventative health measures. Typically there is a review of the patient's current health status, past medical history including immunizations, surgeries, diagnostic studies, pregnancy history, etc. Also the doctor will inquire about the patient's social history, including current living situation, financial burdens, tobacco, alcohol and drug use, exercise patterns, nutritional practices, etc. Several questions are directed to get information about medical conditions that are or may be presenting. Finally, there is an exam of the skin, head, eyes, ears, throat, neck, chest, heart, abdomen, and extremities. Breast, genital, and rectal evaluations are commonly done if needed, but with the explicit permission of the patient and based on the patient’s needs.

Typically, fasting blood sugar and complete cholesterol testing is performed at the same time with results at the time of visit (if okay with insurance). Immunizations are made current. Other tests including an electrocardiogram (EKG) or a breathing test (spirometry) may be performed. BMI (Body Mass Index) will be determined and shared.

Many insurance companies will pay for a physical. Check with your insurance company. Medicare only pays for a physical when it is performed during the first six months of becoming eligible for Medicare. Several patients have requested the physical to be included as part of their disease oriented office visit. This is not legal due to rules laid out by Medicare. Medicare does not pay for breast exams, prostate exams, and other tests.

Why am I charged a co-pay when I have a physical?

When a patient has only a physical, some insurance companies do not require a co-pay. Insurance companies contract with physicians as well as patients. We are required to comply with their rules for payments including their decisions about billing co-pays for visits. Some charge co-pays and others do not. Insurance may charge an additional co-payment if a patient has problems other than the physical exam, such as chest pain, acute illness (cough, cold, sinus), and managing chronic conditions (blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes). When a patient comes in for a physical and brings up an additional complaint, the insurance company may require a co-pay.

What does it mean to be "fasting"?

Medically speaking, fasting (is a condition that) establishes a nutritional baseline. To prepare for a lab test that requires you to be fasting, such as cholesterol panel or a fasting blood sugar (FBS), you should not eat or drink anything but water 8 hours prior to the test. You should take medication as prescribed.

Where do I go to have my blood drawn for testing?

If the doctor prescribes blood work, you must go where your insurance company dictates in order to ensure coverage. Contact your insurance company to determine where you should go.

SFP prefers Lab Corp (patient insurance permitting), located at Wells St. and Wadsworth, just off Van Dam intersection with Church St. in Saratoga Springs.

The reason for the strong preference is that it is in the patient's best interest. Lab Corp transmits lab data via an interface to our electronic medical record, thus allowing data to be analyzed sooner and against time.

If Lab Corp does not participate with your insurance, blood work may be done at Saratoga Hospital (on Church Street in Saratoga Springs), Wilton Medical Arts (across from the Wilton Mall), and at the Malta Medical Arts ( off exit 12 of the Northway).

How can I get my Lab or Procedure results?

Ideally when the Lab results are ordered the patient should be informed how and when to get results. Some results have a follow up appointment. Some will have a return phone call. Due to privacy requirements, giving lab results only to the patient is common. A secure cell phone voice mail is a good alternative.

NOTE: Sometimes (the "safety net" has a hole in it or) the lab report just does not come to us. If your expectation does not happen call the office and give the date and place the testing occurred. Every attempt will be made to get this information to you. If the test requires an office visit due to the nature of the test, please respect this decision and wait to discuss the results at the appointment.

How often should a physical be performed?

According to the National Institute of Health, the following guidelines should be followed for physicals:

  • Healthy babies should have a physical exam at birth and then again when they are 2, 4, 6, 9, 12, 15, and 18 months of age.
  • Children between the ages of 2 and 13 should see the doctor every one to two years.
  • Adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18, if not sexually active, should have a physical every one to three years. Those that are sexually active need follow-up and a physical exam every year.
  • Adults 19-64 should have a physical exam every one to two years.
  • Adults 65 and over should have a yearly exam.

How do I request a prescription refill?

Please go to our website, www.saratogafamilypractice.com, and click on "Electronic Services". Then click "Prescription Refills" and enter your information. This is the preferred method.

If the prescription you are requesting will continue at the same dose and frequency AND this office's clinician's name is on the bottle, then call your pharmacy and enter your prescription information into the pharmacy's automated refill line or you may utilize your pharmacy's online renewal process. The pharmacy will then contact our office directly. Once received, our office will then respond in kind or make the necessary corrections. Please call the pharmacy directly to check the status of your renewal, not this office.

This process eliminates the need for the patient to call Saratoga Family Practice's prescription renewal line and dictate all the medication details.

Please note, this process does NOT apply to controlled substances, mail order prescriptions, or when a new pharmacy is being requested. These requests require a call to the office.

Renewal of medications will take place Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 4:30pm (not on holidays).

If calling the office, please leave a message on our prescription refill line. Please be advised that this option may take longer than the website.

  • Clearly state your name and the name of each medication you need.
  • Spell the medication name if you do not know how to pronounce it.
  • State the frequency and dose as it is listed on the bottle - in milligrams (mg) or micrograms (mcg).
  • State the preferred pharmacy.

Note: Refills should be initiated 5-7 days prior to running out. Our staff acknowledges all refill requests on a timely basis, but cannot always respond to requests the same day. Please be considerate of and do not wait until you have little or no medication left to order a refill.

What are "e-scribe" and "e-refill"?

E-scribe allows the prescriber to send the prescription to the pharmacy electronically via the internet, eliminating the need for paper prescriptions and "drop-offs" by the patient.

E-refill enables the pharmacy to initiate refills on behalf of the patient by contacting the prescribing physician electronically. Prescriptions for controlled medications must still be picked up at our office.

Why does the Practice have the patient send the prescription to mail order pharmacies?

Like other medical practices we have (found) difficulty in working with mail order pharmacies. It is not uncommon for a patient to call stating their mail order pharmacy “did not get our prescription.” Even though we (can) document that we sent the prescription, we are (perceived as having dropped the ball) often blamed. To eliminate this unfortunate (common) occurrence, we like other practices, give the prescription to the patient who sends it by mail to the mail order pharmacy. Then if they say they didn’t get it the patient knows they sent it.

Why doesn't the doctor take care of me when I am hospitalized?

Unfortunately this is true. It is a sign of the times. The insurance companies have put such pressure on hospitals to have patients minimize the duration of hospital stays. The requirement to get patients out as quickly as possible requires many times multiple hospital visits on the same day. This has created excessive hardship on physicians who have relatively few hospitalized patients.

This requirement has prompted hospitals to hire physicians who do only hospital work, Hospitalists. Upon discharge from the hospital, the Hospitalists is expected to transmit details of each hospital stay to the primary care physician.

If I become a Hospice patient, will the Practice participate in my care?

Yes, we are interested in caring for those who are terminally ill. Often when a patient becomes terminally ill under the care of another specialist, such as an oncologist or cardiologist, hospice care is initiated and the primary care physician is inadvertently overlooked. You will need to inform Hospice of your intentions.

How do I get on the flu shot list for the shots to be given in the fall each year?

SFP patients who received a flu shot the previous year will be added to a list and will be contacted the following year in September or October. If you wish to be added to this list, please call the office or speak to a receptionist at the time of your visit. Influenza vaccine is ordered in December prior to the September / October distribution. This means there is a finite amount of the vaccine.