Companion HealthCare Employee Aids Thousands By Catching a Medication Error

Apr 03, 2001, 01:00 ET from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Carolina

    COLUMBIA, S.C., April 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Most people don't think twice
 about getting a prescription filled.  They trust that their doctor will write
 down the medication they need and it will be dispensed correctly at the local
 pharmacy.  Unfortunately, mistakes can happen.  Beth Gossett, appeals
 coordinator, Companion HealthCare, recently caught a medication error that
 could have resulted in a huge expense and a potential health risk to a member.
     Gossett has worked with Companion HealthCare, a managed care subsidiary of
 Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Carolina, for four years.  Her job
 responsibilities include reviewing appeals from Companion HealthCare members
 in the event their prescriptions are denied when being dispensed.  A Companion
 HealthCare member was prescribed Sarafem(TM), a new formulation of the drug
 Prozac, used to treat symptoms of PMS.  Her nurse practitioner called in the
 prescription to a local pharmacy chain.  However, the pharmacist attempted to
 fill a prescription for Serophene(TM), a name for the generic drug Clomiphene,
 used in the treatment of infertility.  The member's prescription was denied
 because fertility drugs are an excluded benefit under her coverage plan.  Upon
 appeal to Companion HealthCare, Gossett researched the case and discovered the
 prescription error.  The patient was subsequently able to obtain the correct
 medication Sarafem.
     Companion HealthCare was the first group to officially report the
 confusion to the United States Pharmacopoeia (USP), a clearinghouse
 organization that monitors medication, dietary supplements and dosage forms
 for quality, safety and efficacy.  Due to Gossett's efforts, Sarafem and
 Serophene were recently added to the USP's official list of drugs with
 potentially dangerous and confusing names.
     "Beth did an excellent job in catching this medical error.  Her attention
 to detail helped not only a Companion HealthCare member, but people all over
 the country with the addition of the two drugs to the USP list," said John
 Little, MD, senior vice president, Companion HealthCare.
     Every year, more than 1,000 cases of prescription errors are reported to
 the USP.  Product confusion, illegible handwriting and unclear directions for
 use are among the primary reasons for prescription mistakes.  Dr. Little
 suggests the following measure to avoiding medication errors:
 
     * Make sure your prescription is legible.  If you cannot read the
       prescription ask your doctor to print the name of the medication and the
       directions for taking the medication.
 
     * Ask questions.  You can ask your nurse, doctor or pharmacist.  Make sure
       you completely understand your health problems and how the medication is
       supposed to work.
 
     * Talk with your pharmacist about the medication.  This can help you catch
       errors that may have occurred when the pharmacist reads and transcribes
       the written or phone in prescription.
 
     * Make sure you use your medication as the directions indicate they should
       be taken.  Medication may not work as well if it is taken in the wrong
       dosage.
 
     Created in 1984, Companion HealthCare has more than 144,000 members.
 Companion HealthCare has twice been awarded full three-year accreditation from
 the National Committee for Quality Assurance.  Managed Health Care Magazine
 ranked Companion HealthCare sixth on its list of 15 leading HMOs offering a
 maternity program to its members.  Companion Health Care also ranked 52nd in
 Newsweek Magazine's 1999 list of the nation's top 100 HMOs, the highest of any
 South Carolina-based HMO.
 
 

SOURCE Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Carolina
    COLUMBIA, S.C., April 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Most people don't think twice
 about getting a prescription filled.  They trust that their doctor will write
 down the medication they need and it will be dispensed correctly at the local
 pharmacy.  Unfortunately, mistakes can happen.  Beth Gossett, appeals
 coordinator, Companion HealthCare, recently caught a medication error that
 could have resulted in a huge expense and a potential health risk to a member.
     Gossett has worked with Companion HealthCare, a managed care subsidiary of
 Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Carolina, for four years.  Her job
 responsibilities include reviewing appeals from Companion HealthCare members
 in the event their prescriptions are denied when being dispensed.  A Companion
 HealthCare member was prescribed Sarafem(TM), a new formulation of the drug
 Prozac, used to treat symptoms of PMS.  Her nurse practitioner called in the
 prescription to a local pharmacy chain.  However, the pharmacist attempted to
 fill a prescription for Serophene(TM), a name for the generic drug Clomiphene,
 used in the treatment of infertility.  The member's prescription was denied
 because fertility drugs are an excluded benefit under her coverage plan.  Upon
 appeal to Companion HealthCare, Gossett researched the case and discovered the
 prescription error.  The patient was subsequently able to obtain the correct
 medication Sarafem.
     Companion HealthCare was the first group to officially report the
 confusion to the United States Pharmacopoeia (USP), a clearinghouse
 organization that monitors medication, dietary supplements and dosage forms
 for quality, safety and efficacy.  Due to Gossett's efforts, Sarafem and
 Serophene were recently added to the USP's official list of drugs with
 potentially dangerous and confusing names.
     "Beth did an excellent job in catching this medical error.  Her attention
 to detail helped not only a Companion HealthCare member, but people all over
 the country with the addition of the two drugs to the USP list," said John
 Little, MD, senior vice president, Companion HealthCare.
     Every year, more than 1,000 cases of prescription errors are reported to
 the USP.  Product confusion, illegible handwriting and unclear directions for
 use are among the primary reasons for prescription mistakes.  Dr. Little
 suggests the following measure to avoiding medication errors:
 
     * Make sure your prescription is legible.  If you cannot read the
       prescription ask your doctor to print the name of the medication and the
       directions for taking the medication.
 
     * Ask questions.  You can ask your nurse, doctor or pharmacist.  Make sure
       you completely understand your health problems and how the medication is
       supposed to work.
 
     * Talk with your pharmacist about the medication.  This can help you catch
       errors that may have occurred when the pharmacist reads and transcribes
       the written or phone in prescription.
 
     * Make sure you use your medication as the directions indicate they should
       be taken.  Medication may not work as well if it is taken in the wrong
       dosage.
 
     Created in 1984, Companion HealthCare has more than 144,000 members.
 Companion HealthCare has twice been awarded full three-year accreditation from
 the National Committee for Quality Assurance.  Managed Health Care Magazine
 ranked Companion HealthCare sixth on its list of 15 leading HMOs offering a
 maternity program to its members.  Companion Health Care also ranked 52nd in
 Newsweek Magazine's 1999 list of the nation's top 100 HMOs, the highest of any
 South Carolina-based HMO.
 
 SOURCE  Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Carolina