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Press Release

IBC Set to Present on Patient Safety Strategies for Lower Costs

Center Valley, PA - October 23, 2009 - Kathy Donohue, R.N., of Independence Blue Cross (IBC) will present on a patient safety panel as part of the Pennsylvania State Nurses Summit this morning at 10:30 a.m. at DeSales University in the Lehigh Valley. Donohue will share multiple programs and strategies that Independence Blue Cross has introduced over the past nine years to assist physicians and hospitals in improving patient safety throughout southeastern Pennsylvania.

"As a health insurer, IBC is committed to working with physicians to improve the quality of health care for members and the community, and introduced a comprehensive patient safety program in 2001," said Donohue, manager of provider improvement and member safety at IBC. The program was created in response to a 1999 Institute of Medicine report, To Err is Human, which concluded that nearly 100,000 hospitalized patients die each year because of medical error.

"We designed a program focused on patient safety to reduce medication errors, surgical mistakes, and to improve patient safety overall for our members, striving to make the Philadelphia region the safest place to receive health care," Donohue adds.

With member safety as an ongoing top concern, one of the initiatives IBC has developed is a robust clinical program called the targeted drug utilization review (DUR). Medication therapy for certain conditions can produce dramatic benefits, but only when prescribed medications are used as intended by the physician. When patients don't take medications as directed, they put themselves at risk for worsening disease and reducing the quality of their care.

"This program was created to help improve the members' health by providing valuable pharmacy data to doctors," Donohue explains. "This way, doctors can better work with their patients who are noncompliant with taking prescriptions, or who might be receiving improper doses or combinations of medications, or who may be abusing narcotics." IBC then communicates the misuse or potentially inappropriate prescriptions to their providers. She says that through this program, IBC is able to help prevent serious health risks for members who may unknowingly be taking unsafe drug combinations prescribed by multiple doctors.

There are other components to the patient safety program at IBC. For example, "the Partnership for Patient Care is an innovative collaboration that brings IBC together with participating Philadelphia-area hospitals to improve health care quality for members," Donahue says. Since the Partnership began, its projects have:

  • improved adoption of processes that prevent surgical site infections, such as increased control of blood sugar in patients ready to undergo surgery and optimized use of antibiotics before and after surgery;
  • implemented best practices for the prevention of blood infections associated with central line placement;
  • helped prevent life-threatening blood clots that can develop during hospitalization;
  • improved the prevention of patient falls and initiated region-wide standardization of falls reporting;
  • raised awareness about the threat of MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) through a unique grass-roots approach - a Fight MRSA! campaign with school students.

Other topics of nursing education at the 2009 Summit include guiding patients toward change through motivational interviewing, reducing exposure to hazardous substances in the workplace, and promoting evidence-based practices in clinical care. The Pennsylvania State Nurses Summit attracts nurses of all disciplines from across the Commonwealth and offers attendees 7.8 contact hours of continuing education credit. The Pennsylvania State Nurses Association is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Accreditation.

Independence Blue Cross is a leading health insurer in southeastern Pennsylvania. Nationwide, Independence Blue Cross and its affiliates provide coverage to nearly 3.3 million people. For more than 70 years, Independence Blue Cross has offered high-quality health care coverage tailored to meet the changing needs of members, employers, and health care professionals. Independence Blue Cross's HMO and PPO health care plans have consistently received the highest ratings from the National Committee for Quality Assurance.

Independence Blue Cross supports comprehensive health care reform that would extend coverage to all Americans, reduce costs, and improve quality. We advocate reform that builds on the current employer-based system that currently serves 170 million Americans. Learn more about our views on health care legislation now working its way through Congress by visiting our website.

Independence Blue Cross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

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