My brother has been in the hospital with leukaemia for over two years, and I have seen my fair share of excellent work that the Health Service Executive (HSE) is capable of, including providing the necessary treatments, to some excellent and very friendly nurses, through to his assigned doctor. But my mind is stuck on a story he told me about 12 months ago, that really opens your eyes to some of the reasons why Dr. James Reilly may be struggling to overhaul the system.
Sometime during his treatment my brother got a throat infection – the hospital were treating this with a medicine (not too sure of the name) that was a very high cost to them. They decided that while my brother had a medical card, it would be better to provide him with a prescription for the medicine so he could treat himself with it while he was at home.
My brother went in with his prescription to purchase the medicine, only to find out it cost €1500 a bottle – and his prescription was for four bottles, coming to a total of €6000. Now while this wouldn’t have any effect on him (medical card covers it all), he asked the pharmacist if he could only take one bottle, and come back for the next bottle when and if he needed it. The pharmacist couldn’t do this, and insisted they had to fulfil the prescription.
Within a few days, and after using about a quarter of the first bottle, the decision was made to take him back off the medication. This left him with three full bottles coming to a total cost of €4500. He then tried to get rid of these by offering them back to the pharmacist (who couldn’t take them), and to the hospital so they could perhaps treat another patient with them (and they also said they couldn’t take them).
This has left him with €4500 worth of medication sitting in his bathroom that he probably won’t ever use, the HSE has lost out on €6000 to foot the original bill, as well as costs to purchase the same medication for other patients on the ward. The winner is obviously the pharmacist who will get paid in total. While this is a very simple case, it makes you wonder how often these kind of incidents happen, and how can they be improved upon?
On a side note, my brother and I will be attempting to do the Ring of Kerry cycle in aid of Friends of Leukaemia Patients Cork, and would greatly appreciate any donations on our mycharity.ie page.