In honor of Mother’s Day, I wanted to give my mother, JoAnne Davis, the opportunity to tell her and my father’s story about their journey through the medical system. In addition to being an advocate for my father’s health, she is a retired teacher after 25 years, a volunteer at various organizations in her newly adopted hometown of Fort Lawn, SC, and a Masters student at Winthrop University.
Love you Mom! Happy Mother’s Day!
“Starlight, starbright…first star I see tonight.” Remember a time when wishing on a star was a sure-fire way to have your dreams come true? If a new bicycle or roller skates were not in your yard soon after, it was because you didn’t keep your wish a secret or maybe you just didn’t wish hard enough. Too soon we learned that wishing on a star was truly a child’s dream. Nevertheless, recent health issues that occurred in my husband’s life made me wish that insurers and medical personnel were on the same page when it comes to drug efficacies and interactions, as several very important questions arose as to which medications would best resolve the issues he faced.
Jim was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation in July 2013 and was immediately placed on Coumadin to lessen the threat of stroke. Because he did not relish the monthly blood tests, not to mention the cost associated with the frequent testing to both the insurance company and patient, his doctor agreed that Xarelto would be the better alternative. During a regular check-up, Jim handed his cardiologist a copy of a review of the research on anti-coagulants by AdverseEvents and he and his cardiologist decided that Eliquis would provide not only the necessary blood thinning results but, just as importantly, it had a safer score on adverse events from bleeding than either Xarelto or Coumadin. We applauded the choice and congratulated each other on our proactive stance and thought the issue was resolved. Enter the insurance company and my wish upon a star.
Though his doctor had made the informed decision that Eliquis was the best choice of drug for Jim, the insurance company was not at all convinced. There ensued several weeks of uncertainty as to whether medical expertise or insurance cost-cutting practice would prevail. Twice the cardiologist wrote a letter of endorsement for the drug only to have the request denied. Finally, after having received the third letter from the doctor, the insurance company agreed to cover the cost of Eliquis. Access to the safety rating for Eliquis as it compares to other blood thinners would have verified that the long term costs of the safer drug would far outweigh the much higher cost of covering a hospital stay for a bleeding event. However, at present, that is only a wish upon a star.
We searched for that “wishing star” again when Jim was prescribed Levaquin for an infection. A couple of days into that drug therapy and Jim reverted back into atrial fibrillation, which landed him in the hospital due to fainting episodes caused by the arrhythmia. Though doctors could not say for certain that the Levaquin was the culprit, we learned that it can indeed affect heart rate and rhythms. If his doctor had access to up-to-date information on the adverse events associated with this class of drug, perhaps another antibiotic would have been prescribed and the cost of a 5-day hospital stay AND a cardioversion to shock the heart back into normal rhythm may have been averted. All is well again and Jim proudly wears his “I’ve got rhythm” tee-shirt now, a birthday gift from our son and daughter-in-law. I haven’t seen the cost of this 5 day stay, but I am sure it pales in comparison to a system that might have alerted his doctor to the possible side effects of that particular class of drug.
Jim and I can wish upon a star that insurers, pharmacists, and medical personnel were able to access research such as that provided by AdverseEvents. Full disclosure here…our son is EVP of the very company whose research may have led Jim’s cardiologist to consider Eliquis as the drug of choice to manage the serious effects of atrial fibrillation. However, every patient should have that kind of trust in their doctor, pharmacist, and their insurance company that the decisions made are based on solid real-time research that not only saves lives but keeps costs in check, too. Win-win situation all around if you ask me. We know that wishing on a star doesn’t make things happen. It does indeed take hard work, patience, endurance and yes, maybe a little luck. We’re proud of the passion our son has to make that wish a reality and we are confident that doctors and health insurance companies will soon stop wishing for better results and instead see the possibilities in a new paradigm.