Sunday, January 10, 2010
The DEA and The War on Doctors / Pain Crisis
This is my personal experience as a chronic pain suffer: After researching I discovered that I am far from alone.
A brief background: I am not an addict, not a drug abuser. I do not drink alcohol, not even socially. I do not smoke cigarettes, I never smoked marijuana. I don't even eat meat! I have never been arrested however I have gotten a traffic ticket...just one.
I am a Medical Assistant, I'm also am a trained Drug & Alcohol Counselor (I trained in Scotland). Before I became disabled I worked in health care in some form or another for 33 years. A combination of years of heavy physical labor, weight issues and a familial history of denigrative arthritis the inevitable happened to me.
I've had two back surgeries: The first one in October 24, 2006. A Laminectomy with spinal fusion at L-3, L-4, L-5. My second one in April 2008 was an emergency surgery. Another Laminectomy and extend fusion to S-1. I now suffer chronic pain but I am one of the lucky ones so far because my doctor provides me with adequate pain management. Recently due to a temporary change in my health insurance I had to change doctors. Again I am fortunate as my doctor's associate agreed to take me on as a patient. However when I went across the hall to schedule an appoint his front desk medical assistant asked me why I wanted to see the doctor, I proceeded to inform her of the multiple reasons....when I got to: '...and pain management' she promptly said; 'we do not treat pain, you will have to go to a pain management clinic'. I thanked her & left. I later phoned my physician's office and told the medical assistant what was said to me and her response was: Patty, he agreed to take you on as a patient, he has to treat your pain, this is ridiculous, I'm going over there right now to straighten this out....and 'straighten it out' she did. She phoned me back & informed me that they are waiting for me to call to schedule an appointment which I did. The day of my first visit with this new doctor I was put in an exam room. I could hear him ouside the door, he whispers to my former doctor: 'how is she? Is she 'okay' (now, by 'okay' I can only assume he means: is she a 'drug seeker'. I hear my former doctor say to him: 'No, No...she okay, she's a nice girl, I've known her for a long time'. Then, my former doctor came into the little exam room with my new doctor & introduces us. I'm telling you this only because I am sure this new doctor would not have agreed to treat my pain had not my former doctor assure him that I was not a drug seeker. Long story short, after the first office visit my new doctor with the help of my formor doctor and the conversation that I had with him he was no longer suspicious of me. However his front desk medical assistant is still curt with me and acts openly suspicious. I am treated like an addict/criminal. I have received this same treatment by some pharmacists as well. This is how Chronic Pain Sufferers are treated in America.....
Doctors won't treat pain out of well-justified fear of DEA reprisals. Medical ethics and practice in pain and addiction medicine are distorted by law enforcement imperatives of prohibition.
The medical obligation to relieve suffering has been perverted into a duty on physicians to abandon pain patients under penalty of incarceration as a drug trafficker.
Alexander DeLuca, M.D., MPH
Professor Scammington discusses how the Drug Enforcement Agency's policy of harassing and arresting doctors that, in their view, prescribe too much medication keeps millions of Americans from getting the medical care they need.
Dr. Randale Sechrest, Director, Spine and Pain Center at St. Pat's Hospital, Missoula, Montana outlines current health care crisis relating to lack of access to mental and substance counseling/treatment, how and why doctors are leary of treating chronic pain patients, etc. At the Montana ACLU annual meeting, March 1, 2008. "Pain as a Civil Liberties Issue: how the "Drug Way" affects Doctors, Patients, and YOU." America's drug war is interfering with the practice of medicine.
War on Drugs, War on Doctors, and the Pain Crisis in America