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by: Theresa Flaherty - Friday, September 4, 2009

In March 2008, both the pilot AND first officer on a Mesa Airlines flight nodded off at the—ahem— wheel. They actually flew past their destination—Hawaii! That's right, they flew past Hawaii.

The cause, at least for the pilot: undiagnosed sleep apnea.

As a result, the National Transportation Safety Board recently recommended the FAA to change pilot medical applications so that they will ask pilots about "any previous diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea and about the presence of specific risk factors for that disorder."

Honestly. We have been hearing plenty about tired truckers and steps being taken to combat OSA on the open road. Why is the aviation industry always so far behind (remember the drunken pilots from a few years back? Years after drunk driving became a dirty word?).

People, if you drive/fly/pilot in a professional capacity, don't you have licensure requirements and medical standards? They exist for a reason.

Hop to it! And have a safe trip.

Theresa Flaherty

by: Theresa Flaherty - Friday, August 28, 2009

A footnote to my CVS mini-saga: The image of the pharmacy tech shrugging at me finally drove me to make a quick complaint to CVS (I love e-mail). The store is sending a regional pharmacy supervisor to the location to discuss my issues with their lack of customer service with staff there.

I didn't provide any names, because I felt that the overriding problem was lack of training and staff communication. (Let me just add here that I work a part-time retail job. If I were to shrug at a customer and tell her I couldn't help her, I'd be in big trouble.)

So, when I say staffers need proper training, I know it can be done.

I am just sorry the shrugger probably won't recognize herself.

Theresa Flaherty

by: Theresa Flaherty - Thursday, August 27, 2009

In the August issue of HME News I wrote an article, "Diabetes education: Don't give it away" about a new disease state management program that providers can use to develop a such a program—and get paid.

I have heard from several providers seeking more information on the program. Since we don't hear from the masses too often (unless it's to complain), I figured it was worth posting another mention, along with HD Smith's main contact number. They are the folks behind this program. They can be reached at 866.232.1222 or at

Theresa Flaherty

by: Theresa Flaherty - Thursday, August 20, 2009

So, I hauled my insurance card into CVS on Wednesday, handed it to a tech and said I was told my info was no longer on file. I think my info was on file, from her reaction when she punched in my name, but she humored me and pretended to re-enter it. I then asked for two more of my scripts to be filled for pick-up later that afternoon. They went ahead and filled a third one for me that I didn't ask for, one that they either didn't bill to insurance or that insurer has decided not to pay (after 10 years of paying). When questioned, the tech at the register (same unhelpful one from Sunday) said I needed a new insurance card. (Yet, the insurance company paid for the other two scripts??).

"If I needed a new card, why wasn't that mentioned this morning when I brought in the old one?"

(Shrug): "I don't know who you talked to."

That was it, her response. A shrug and no offer to actually help me figure out what was going on. There were a few other snags yesterday afternoon during the same visit to CVS, but they all cycle back to the same issue: rude, crappy customer service. In this day and age, rude, crappy customer service just doesn't cut it for me, for any one.

Accepting suggestions for what the acronym CVS really stands for.

Theresa Flaherty

by: Theresa Flaherty - Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Adults who suffer from severe OSA are 50% more likely to die than those with normal respiration, says a new study conducted by Johns Hopkins. The study measured the sleep and breathing patterns of more than 6,400 people for eight years. Men younger than 70 with OSA were twice as likely to die as those without.

To recap: If you are overweight, and stop breathing, you have a higher risk of death.

This study was funded by taxpayers.

Theresa Flaherty

by: Theresa Flaherty - Monday, August 17, 2009

I write a lot about my independent pharmacy readers, and I think they provide a vital service to their communities, but I have a confession to make.

I use CVS.

No particular reason for that, except that is the only pharmacy near my house and I have used it forever. Perhaps on some level, I also feel that if I were traveling and suddenly needed a prescription, it might be easier.

But then again, maybe it wouldn't. Yesterday, I picked up one of my regular prescriptions. I had dropped off this year's new ones to be put on file. Somewhere along the way, my insurance info got mangled and the charge didnt' go through the payer. I didn't notice right away because for this particular script, I always pay out of pocket, but still, it should have been billed through insurance.

Fearing there was a problem with my insurance, I called this morning and got a rather unhelpful, uninformed pharmacy tech. Apparently, my Part D coverage had some sort of issue. Not being anywhere near Medicare-age I said that wasn't surprising. (Don't they have my birth date on file??). For some reason they couldn't even pull my insurance info up in their computer, though I have had the same plan for four years.

Anyhow, I have to drag myself back in there with my insurance info for them to fix it.

This isn't the first time recently I have run into an issue with CVS. I shouldn't complain, because so many people, for a variety of reasons have no access whatsoever. I just wonder, would this have happened had I used an independent?? One where everybody knows my name?

And to top it all off, CVS also lost my preference for a non-child proof cap. Even if it hadn't already been near 90 degrees last night, I would have worked up a sweat trying to open the damn bottle.

Theresa Flaherty

by: Theresa Flaherty - Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control says that people who adopt four healthy behaviors -- never smoking, regular exercise, eating well and maintaining a healthy weight -- can dramatically reduce their likelihood for chronic disease and an early death, a new study confirms.

Really? I never would have guessed that.

On average, healthy living may cut your odds for heart disease, cancer and diabetes by about 80 percent, the researchers said.

What really bothers me about studies like this is the amount of time and effort and money they waste, money that could be better spent, on say, curing a disease or two.

Theresa Flaherty

by: Theresa Flaherty - Monday, August 3, 2009

It's not often diabetes and all its related accoutremonts elicits screams of happiness and fainting (low blood-sugars aside). But teen heartthrob Nick Jonas has been raising his profile on the awareness front for Type 1 diabetes. He spoke last month in DC and this month will address the National Press Club.

Personally, I am not a fan of the kid's music (If you saw the Jonas Brothers' Grammy performance with Stevie Wonder you're probably still cringing over their rendition of "Superstition"). But, it's nice to see a young person setting himself out there as a celebrity role model for living with the disease.

He partnered with Bayer recently to launch a Web site for kids with diabetes and is prominently pictured with his Contour glucometer (wonder if he gets his test strips free). Maybe the industry needs a celebrity spokesperson to liven up the competitive bidding conversation.

Theresa Flaherty

by: Theresa Flaherty - Thursday, July 30, 2009

Remind yourself of this the next time you stop at McDonalds with a hankering for a Big Mac, fries and a large soft drink:

The proportion of obese Americans increased by 37% in the eight years leading up to 2006, prompting a $40 billion a year rise in healthcare costs, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC study, published this week,  estimates that obesity costs the country $140 billion a year in extra medical costs. Obese people spend on average $1,500 a year more for medical care than a person of healthy weight.

Most of the increased healthcare costs result from the cost of prescription medication for obesity-related conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

This is a terrible problem that will take its toll on U.S. society for years to come. If you’re a provider who supplies bariatric equipment and services, you owe it to yourself, your patients and your referral sources to learn as much about obesity as possible. By becoming a valuable and supportive resource, you'll be doing your country a great service.

For some interesting insights on the obesity epidemic, check out this NPR interview with Dr. David Kessler, the former head of the FDA.

— Mike Moran

by: Theresa Flaherty - Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Efforts to exempt community pharmacies from the fast-approaching accreditation and surety bond requirements gained momentum this week when three groups offered their support. The National Federation of Independent Business, the National Rural Health Association and the American Association of Diabetes Educators have all sent letters to the appropriate Senate and House committees, encouraging their members to support bills that would exempt pharmacies from the Sept. 30 accreditation requirement and the Oct. 1 surety bond requirement. Industry stakeholders worry that the requirements will force some pharmacies to stop selling HME, affecting access, especially for beneficiaries in more rural areas. A draft healthcare reform bill in the House proposes exempting pharmacies that sell diabetes supplies, canes and crutches from the accreditation requirement.

Liz Beaulieu