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Computer Glitch Blocks Too Many Prescriptions

MANAGED CARE February 2002. © MediMedia USA
News and Commentary

Computer Glitch Blocks Too Many Prescriptions

MANAGED CARE February 2002. ©MediMedia USA

Pharmacists in Massachusetts were hopping mad when a new computer system designed to help process prescriptions for Medicaid enrollees malfunctioned during its launch.

"It was a nightmare, not just for our customers, but also for pharmacists," Jay Leary of Southerland Pharmacy in Brighton tells the Boston Globe. "The whole system fell apart for a while."

That system allows pharmacists to obtain online approval for Medicaid beneficiaries' prescriptions.

No Medicaid beneficiary actually was unable to obtain a prescribed medication during the week of Dec. 17, when the new system was launched.

However, that was due mostly to efforts of pharmacists who would not be put off. When the new system began denying requests for prescription authorizations (45 percent were denied; usually it's about 20 percent), pharmacists overwhelmed toll-free telephone help lines, AP/CNN reports. Most of the bugs have been worked out since then.