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S.C. BlueCross Offers Consumer Tips During Patient Safety Awareness Week

March 11, 2009

Columbia, S.C. -- In observance of National Patient Safety Awareness Week March 8-14, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina and BlueChoice HealthPlan of South Carolina say consumers can take some responsibility for ensuring a safer experience in their own health care.

"Each year, patients experience medical errors that threaten their health and sometimes their lives. These errors can occur during surgery or a routine doctor visit, in a hospital or in the patient's home," said Dr. Laura Long, BlueCross' vice president of clinical quality and health management. "One of the biggest steps you can take is to be involved and informed about your treatment."

Some key steps individuals can take to eliminate errors in their medical care are:

Become an informed consumer:

  • Research options and possible treatment plans
  • Choose a provider experienced in the type of care you require
  • Ask your provider questions
  • Seek more than one opinion

Keep written records of your medical history:

  • Medical conditions and illnesses
  • Medications and dietary supplements
  • Reactions or allergies
  • Phone numbers of your doctors, clinics and pharmacies for quick reference

 
Involve a family member or friend:

  • He or she can accompany you on appointments, help you ask questions, understand care instructions and suggest your preferences

Follow your treatment plan

  • Get instructions verbally and in writing
  • Ask for clarification if needed
  • Take medications exactly as prescribed
  • Report anything unusual to your doctor

BlueCross and BlueChoice HealthPlan both offer a "My Health Toolkit" for members to see their personal health information. My Health Toolkit is viewable on the companies’ Web sites, with the personal information in a secure section.

More detailed safety information related to physician and hospital quality can be viewed on the Web sites of several professional associations:
 
MySChospital.org
This Web site, sponsored by the South Carolina Hospital Association, provides information about the quality and safety of care provided by South Carolina hospitals and encourages patients to take an active role in their care.

SCMAnet.orgThis is a Web site sponsored by the South Carolina Medical Association that features sections called "Publications" and "Knowledge Center" that provide information of interest to consumers.

Diabetes Physician Recognition Program (DPRP)
The American Diabetes Association and the National Committee for Quality Assurance sponsor this program. It promotes quality health care for people with diabetes. This site features a list of doctors noted for this effort.

Heart/Stroke Recognition ProgramThe National Committee for Quality Assurance and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association sponsor this program. It promotes quality health care for people with heart disease or who have suffered strokes. This site features a list of doctors noted for this effort.

Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO)
This organization evaluates and accredits U.S. health care organizations and programs. You can search for JCAHO-accredited providers and review institution-specific quality reports in the Quality Check section.

Leapfrog Group
The Leapfrog Group is made up of more than 150 private and public organizations that use their purchasing power to improve health care safety. It offers information to help people make informed choices about their healthcare. On this site, you can compare hospitals and providers based on quality and safety practices.

Physician Practice Connections (PPC)
The National Committee for Quality Assurance and Bridges to Excellence developed this program. On this site, you’ll find a list of doctors who improve patient care by using up-to-date information and systems.

The Dartmouth Atlas of Healthcare
This is a research effort of the Dartmouth Medical School. Its aim is to explain how medical resources are distributed and used in the United States. Site visitors can create a variety of reports using the project’s large health care claims database.

The Hypertension Initiative of South CarolinaMore than 250 providers participate in this program. Its goal is to improve the heart health of South Carolinians. On this site, you’ll find information from providers who track treatment and patient outcomes.

Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., BlueChoice HealthPlan of South Carolina and BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. The only South Carolina-owned and operated health insurance carrier, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina and its family of companies include more than 20 subsidiaries involved in health insurance services, U.S. DoD health program and Medicare contracts, and other insurance and employee benefits services.

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