A Pained Life: What’s Good for the Goose…

A Pained Life: What’s Good for the Goose…

In one of my online support groups, a member who is a physician started a discussion about how doctors need to be alert for fake patients; those that are faking pain or illness to scam a doctor into giving them narcotics. He also wrote about “government agents” who try to entrap or catch doctors who write too many prescriptions for narcotics.

One of the people who replied to the thread was a medical doctor. His post was very angry one, his words so harsh I wondered if he might be a physician wrongly accused of illegitimate prescribing. My curiosity aroused, I decided to Google him.

My search was very productive. His anger was apparently the result of his having been found guilty of illegal narcotic prescribing practices. As a result, his license was suspended. He has not renewed it and is now retired.

bigstock-Asian-American-male-doctor-exp-12827732The doctor who started the thread strongly suggested that I leave the conversation.

“You are someone who likes to ‘out’ people,” he wrote in a private message to me. “That is not appropriate and downright wrong.”

I replied that I thought it was fair and appropriate, especially because the discussion was about fake patients and bad prescribing. The discussion only becomes unfair when doctors complain about patients, but ignore bad conduct among their own.

At National Pain Report, support groups, pain sites, and elsewhere there are many discussions about pain contracts. Stories are shared about patients being unfairly “fired” from medical practices; accused without proof of misusing, selling or trading their narcotic medications.

This often leads to legitimate patients being refused help in emergency rooms, being called doctor shoppers, and being denied prescriptions.

How many articles are there in the mainstream media about the opioid “epidemic” and the misuse or abuse of opiates?

Although it has been repeatedly shown that pain patients rarely become addicted, these articles often rely on stories from patients or family members: “My child (I) was on prescription pain medication. The drugs caused them (me) to become addicted. I had to go through recovery and will never be the same.”

Worse still are the stories from people who have had family members die as a result of their opioid addiction.

It is terribly sad when someone becomes addicted or dies. But it is also sad when a patient does not get the medication they need for chronic pain because of the fear surrounding narcotic drugs.

It is important to rid the ranks of bad patients, so that the rest of us are not automatically assumed “bad” until proven otherwise.

The other side of the equation also needs to be given equal time.

Bad doctors need to be “outed” so the good ones can prescribe what they think necessary and take care of their patients — rather than fear them.

Carol Levy

Carol Levy

Carol Jay Levy has lived with trigeminal neuralgia, a chronic facial pain disorder, for over 30 years. She is the author of “A Pained Life, A Chronic Pain Journey.”  Carol was accredited to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, where she helped get chronic pain recognized as a disease.

Carol is the founder of the Facebook support group “Women in Pain Awareness”. Her blog “The Pained Life” can be found here.

The information in this column is not intended to be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Only your doctor can do that!  It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s personal experiences and opinions alone. It does not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of National Pain Report or Microcast Media.

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Authored by: Carol Levy, Columnist

There are 9 comments for this article
  1. robin birdfeather, BA.MTPT, CFS at 12:04 am

    Following with great interest; I’ve been a TrPt Myotherapist for three decades, a past member of the American Academy of Pain Mgt. and of the National Assoc. of Myofascial Trigger Point Myotherapists. , & , now retired from clinical work. My own previous thirty plus years of Myofascial Pain Syndrome(MPS) paved the way for me to enter the training, and then the practice. For years I under-medicated myself for the reasons stated by others – fear of addiction. Having seen my share of patients with chronic pain of many types, I’m aware of the need for the right kind and amount of drugs, plus, if possible, the right kind and amount of therapeutic movement to bring pain levels down. There are so many other factors as well, referred to as Precipitating and Perpetuating pain factors, to consider (nutritional plusses and minuses, lowering stressors, the actual size/length of various skeletal elements, etc.) Every person in chronic pain can delve into these factors themselves; very few MDs are trained in these things, nor do they have the highly stressed time to go into them, either as students or in addition to treatment time allowances.
    It helps for people to gather themselves together, share resource information, be ‘pain-buddies’ as in 12-step, and
    not to be alone, to deal alone. Ex: people with Lyme Disease, with MS, with cancer, et al, do this regularly if they can. Being in community makes a huge difference, and can lead to huge changes, re: the FDA and medical groups, among others.

  2. Kimberly Kay Miller at 6:46 pm

    Carol,

    In this time in our lives as chronic pain patients it truly seems to be a no-win battle for doctors and patients. Doctors are terrified of losing their licenses or, in some cases just doing more work, patients are the true losers. The ones with absolutely no recourse thanks to the government and thanks to many doctors who forgot their Hippocrattic Oath or lost site of it in the world of politics and money.

    Epidural, anyone?

    See link to Opposition to KY House Bill 1-Pill Mill Bill
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Opposition-to-Kentucky-HB-1-Reform-HB-217-aka-Pill-Mill-Bill/595049517218134

  3. MichaelL at 12:35 pm

    Mr. Fogarty,

    The story you tell is not uncommon. I tried to play policeman, yet tried to trust my patients, as well! It was tough on the ninety-five percent of the patients that could be trusted. I had many people who were able to go back to work, or maintain their employment! The stress, associated with my practice, led me to believe there were better ways to live, instead of living in fear of when the medical board would be knocking on my door, again. I was accused of practicing “cookie cutter medicine”. I found that insulting. I rarely spent less than fifteen minutes with each patient, face to face. No one knew better about their care. Yet, living in fear was a daily thing. Too bad that people get treated worse than animals! Ironically, I broke my back in an accident and suffer from a spinal cord injury called cauda equina syndrome. It is like pulling teeth to get my neuropathic pain treated. I suffer three to four hours at a time when the gabapentin does not control the severe tingling! I was told by one neurologist that it wa not neuropathic pain!? So much for trusting the intelligence of my fellow physicians! The situation is unacceptable. I am not a criminal!

  4. Kurt Matthies at 11:47 am

    Thanks Carol. I think I remember that online confrontation, and frankly, that guy was off-base with his remarks. He demonstrated an arrogance that give physicians their bad rep.

    There are phony pain patients and phony pain doctors. Depending on one’s perspective, both have a negative affect on our ability to get treatment for, or treat, chronic pain.

    I’ve been a pain patient for over 30 years, and this has always been the case, however, the problem today is that pain and its treatment has become a political issue, and regulators are acquiring too much power over what should be doctor/patient confidentiality.

    For instance, with most prescription monitoring systems in place, a person’s opiate-based pain medication is no longer a private matter between doctor, patient, and the pharmacy as records of controlled prescriptions are available to anyone with access to the system.

    I believe that pain patients need to become more vocal in protest for being singled out in this way. We are a sizeable minority — 100 million Americans, if estimates are correct. We need to exercise our voice in this process that is attempting to control our treatment options.

  5. Brenda Smith at 12:41 am

    This article is great and as a chronic pain patient I am angry at being treated as a criminal and not being able to find a doctor that isn’t scared of the DEA. Now even pharmacists are able to choose and judge what prescriptions they will fill. We are being discriminated against because we are disabled and forced into treatments and other drugs that are not useful when narcotics are necessary. No one would choose pain over wellness and I have yet to get high. Probably because I take them as ordered. Please someone tell me how FDA and pharmacies can tell I need x amount of medicine without speaking to me? Thank you for writing about this political issue when police should be arresting dealers and leaving physicians alone. The FDA needs education and new leaders.

  6. Trudy McGee at 5:37 pm

    Good for you Carol!! It’s about time these doctors get put in their places and realize that they are doing harm to their patients, because of the very, very few!! I had my medicine stolen from me from a housekeeper from a company, even though I followed everything in the contract, including locking my pain meds away. She found the keys and stole my bottles, right after I refilled them. I called the sheriff, and they knew who she was!! I got a police report, which is just as my pain contract states. When I went into my doctor’s office, I was told that it was her policy NOT to replace prescriptions that have been stolen. Who got treated like a criminal in this case?? Now I can’t work and I’m sick as a dog. I don’t want any replies to find another doctor, I live in Florida.

  7. Dennis Kinch at 10:35 am

    This whole thing points out how screwed up the legal and medical systems are. Legit doctors and patients being singled out and blamed for the illegalities, legit doctors and patients going to jail and as usual, the true offenders laughing at us. This tiny minority is getting away with theft and fraud and we, I mean society’s governing body, the rule and lawmakers, are jumping through hoops, scrambling to blame somebody and of course, aiming everything at the legitimate docs and patients.

    Because of their fear mongering we, the legit patients are already disgustingly undertreated for pain. I just read an article, a Congressional paper about this, the pain epidemic, the under-treatment of pain, the need to change the focus and start caring for the true patients who are the large majority. I was totally agreeing with it when I noticed, it was published in 1998! It was in answer to the Clinton Healthcare bill that got voted down. 15 years ago!

    So I’m “outing” all of you! Wake up! Grow up! Use your common sense! Quit trying so hard to protect us! You’re killing us! We are the majority, huge majority of common folk who wouldn’t ever lie, cheat or steal! And we’re in pain, damnit! Quit looking to blame people and put that energy into helping people. Quit yelling at someone who supports the pain community! Quit being our mean parent and try being our caring friend. A little trust goes a long, long way!

    Let’s look back 15 years ago and realize, it was a big problem then, it’s much bigger now, and no one, except sites like this one, are trying to do anything about it. Get off your well meaning ass and dig in. We’re trying to help the 10’s of millions while you’re trying to stop the hundreds.
    Get it?

  8. William Crawford at 10:33 am

    Ms. Levy,

    I was born with spina bifida myelomeningocele, repaired in 1950 at Mayo at L1-L-5 before shunts were invented (i have hydrocephalus but I am asymptomatic). I have been functional my entire life, with some back pain and I can walk.Ifull-blown arachnoiditis. Thank God I found the right board certified palliative care doctor in Broward County. I almost became totally dysfuctional from pain. I still work. I strongly disagree that you should give equal time to patients doctor shopping and the doctors.. Florida has become so paranoid about bad doctors the good ones choose to do something else If he fears the $ t per occurence penalty and closes his practice, I dont know what I’ll do.

  9. Mike Fogarty at 8:25 am

    Great article Carol, I couldn’t agree more. Were you able to determine if the doctor who had lost his license was a “pill mill” type doctor or one who had fallen victim to the witch hunt? I ask because something similar happened to one of my doctors. He was a great doctor who restored the lives of hundreds of pain patients, myself included. One patient, who he had discharged, became an addict and went on a rampage. The patient’s mother raised a great public hue and cry, and tried to blame my doctor. The Board of Medicine cravenly took her side. My doctor, who was undergoing cancer treatments at the time was unable to defend himself and was forced into retirement.