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.
The 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 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.
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.