By Terri Lewis, PhD.
On Sunday, Dr. Terri Lewis issued a call to arms to the chronic pain community in the wake of the DEA search of Dr. Forrest Tennant’s office in West Covina. It inspired dozens of comments from our readers. We asked her to expand on those thoughts and share what the chronic pain community can do to organize. Here’s what she said:
Nothing fuels moral panic and the spread of contagion like emotion and an uninformed public. Let’s change this by TAKING BACK CONTROL OF OUR HEALTHCARE DECISIONS. It’s going to take time and hard work and we can do this TOGETHER.
To begin this journey, you must begin by embracing your responsibility to become INFORMED about the conditions under which your state is regulating your health care and the dispensing of important medications. Today, here are five actions you can take to become better INFORMED and begin to take control over this aspect of your health care:
(1) Who’s on your team? Take stock of your care partner relationships. Whether you are a care partner or the consumer who requires support, make a pledge to become informed. Develop a buddy system among your friends, family and social media groups. Decide to do this as a team.
(2) Form a study group. Plot your progress and study these issues together.
(3) Review the information on these links- http://www.healthinfolaw.org/…/who-owns-medical-records… https://www.hhs.gov/…/for…/medical-records/index.html
- Study your medical records together. Investigate them for correctness, gaps in information, and order them by date. Make notes of errors, missing data, other things you are concerned about. Ask your physicians for an extended appointment to go over your medical records with you and address deficiencies, your plan of care and current policies for treatment.
- Gather your EOBs for insurance and compare them to your medical records. What was billed for how much? What services are reflected? If you see discrepancies, contact your insurance company and ask for clarification.
- Gather your pharmacy history. Ask your pharmacy to provide you with a comprehensive print out of the medications you have been prescribed, costs, timeframes. Make an appointment with your pharmacy manager and ask them to explain to you exactly how you will be affected by their policies for dispensing pharmaceuticals and reporting them into your state PDMP system.
(4) Find out what YOUR state’s regulations say about the management of pain and who administers the program by review the information on these links – http://blog.aapainmanage.org/state-state-laws…/ http://www.namsdl.org/
How does your medical history square with the current laws on the books in your state. How do the laws compare the CDC Guidelines published on March 16, 2006?
(5) Go to the internet and search your state legislative health care committees and its membership. Determine who your representatives are in your state house and your senate.
- Make an appointment with your local representative. Go over your records with them and tell them how you are affected. What’s working and what’s not.
- You don’t need to go to their office. Invite them into your home. Show them how you are affected by their decisions.
I will set up a forum for anyone who commits to stepping through this process. So stay tuned.
Dr. Terri Lewis is a rehabilitation educator, clinician and researcher who specializes in chronic pain and is a frequent contributor to the National Pain Report.