Cautionary Tale

We hope you have had an exceptional month full of good health and great joy! I have a cautionary tale to tell you all in hope that it will help protect you and your loved ones from the experience I recently had. The doctor failed, the insurance company failed, the pharmacy failed and the technology failed.

Failure #1: A new doctor (oral surgeon) prescribed an antibiotic for a minor infection. I was to travel and instead of putting off a trip that had been planned for months and which was a surprise and coordinated with many others, I agreed to put off minor oral surgery and take the antibiotic. I filled the script and I was off on my trip. That's where it begins....

Failure #2: I was away from home when cold symptoms started, my Asthma meds started to be ineffective and the flu seemed imminent. I called my internist and asked for different Asthma medication which he agreed but the insurance company refused. The answer was "You need to take our suggestion first before we are willing to pay for the drug you requested." Aside from being an unacceptable answer, this is clearly one of the biggest issues for many people and unacceptable that an insurance company directs patient medical care.

Failure #3: Got through my trip and headed home feeling awful. Flu like symptoms, distressed breathing and a real fear on ending up hospitalized for an asthma attack that was relentless. 2 days after returning home and the 8th day of the antibiotic..... I woke at 5am covered in a rash that could only be described as a full body sleeve, itchy beyond words and by 8am when the doctors office opened I was waiting.

Failure #4: The doctor (who knows me 15 years) said, "Hmmm, measles? Unlikely." I started from the beginning and we discovered that the antibiotic that had been prescribed was in fact penicillin which I have been allergic to since childhood. The prescription was written by a new doctor who I told about my allergy, the pharmacy (National chain who has software to prevent such a problem) fills my prescriptions for 20 years and where my allergy is documented, filled the prescription without hesitation.

My internist said "you are very lucky!" gave me heavy cortisone and said I would my breathing would improve quickly and the rest of the symptoms would resolve. I did not have the flu or a cold and my breathing was not an Asthma attack, ALL a terrible reaction to an antibiotic I never should have taken. Sure enough, all improved drastically once I stopped taking the antibiotic and started heavy cortisone.

Lesson #1: When picking up any prescription, ALWAYS ask the pharmacist to review the prescription with you. If the drugs are generic ALWAYS ask for an explanation and/or the brand name. I would have avoided this experience if I had asked.

Lesson #2: When seeing a new doctor review your medical history and the prescription and ALWAYS ask as you would the pharmacist.

Lesson #3: Learn the Appeal process with your insurance carrier. There is something called a peer review which allows your doctor to explain to the insurance company why you need a specific drug. Not all generics are the same as the brand.

Lesson #4: As a self advocate I missed all of the signs and didn't ask the right questions, I became complacent.

I share the experience in hope that it will keep others safe. Attentive and alert to our own health concerns.

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