When Prosecution Replaces Prescription
By Lynn Webster, MD
POSTED: JUNE 11, 2014
Chances are that most of us know someone with disabling chronic pain. Spotting these people is not very easy. If she is in pain, for instance, you can bet she won’t share it with anyone. The stigma associated with chronic pain often produces a sense of shame and, therefore, desire for concealment.
Imagine this same scenario but on a national scale, with the only difference being that instead of some people withholding problems, society is withholding the solutions.
Such is the plight of Americans who suffer from some type of chronic, persistent pain—a group of people that the Institute of Medicine estimates to number more than 100 million. Many of these people find relief from non-opioid treatment, but there are countless others whose pain is so severe that opioid therapy is the only option that provides enough relief for them to live functional lives. Because of this, it is critical for opioids to remain an available option to those who suffer agonizing pain. It also means that we must take the necessary steps to ensure that these medications are not abused or inappropriately prescribed.
Today, in the United States, prescription drug abuse and opioid-related deaths are a full-fledged epidemic. Drug overdoses have tripled since 1990, and prescription drugs are a driving factor. More than 12 million people reported using prescription painkillers (i.e., opioids) without consent of a prescribing physician in 2010, and opioid-related emergency room visits have skyrocketed in recent years.
To combat these tragic realities, the federal government has moved aggressively to regulate, restrict and monitor the use of painkillers. Even so, the prescription drug abuse and overdose epidemic persists. Now, in the face of increasing pressure to do more, we’ve turned to a new tactic: the prosecution of doctors who treat patients using painkillers.
Please Read More at Dr. Patty’s Chronic-Intractable Pain and You Sites, Inc.