In the News: VA Under Fire; Pain Psychology: Coronavirus

In the News: VA Under Fire; Pain Psychology: Coronavirus

The medical and psychological issues facing our veterans are simply not being met by the Veteran’s Administration (VA).

A heartbreaking story broke this week about a Virginia woman who has filed an $8.2 million claim against the agency.

Here’s the story:

In April 2019, Gary Pressley shot himself in the chest, ending his life because he was in so much pain and as it was described in the lawsuit.

“”It was just a battle with the medication”

For Dan Laird, an MD and attorney in Las Vegas this is another example of how vets are not being treated appropriately by the VA. He tweeted:

“The VA has harmed many Veterans w/ chronic pain. Ignorant self-serving politicians continue to falsely claim that opioids alone are used to treat Veterans w/ pain. The VA has force tapered many Veterans “for their own good.’”

Psychology for Pain Patients Discussed

At the recent American Academy of Pain Medicine annual meeting in Washington D.C there was a brisk discussion on the importance of pain psychology. The session was entitled “Integrating Behavioral Pain Medicine into Patient Care: Science, Practice, and Innovations”.

There was an interesting tidbit by Dr. Geralyn Datz, a highly respected psychologist from Mississippi that said research indicates only 50% of patients follow up when they are referred to a psychologist.

It begs the question, have you visited a psychologist and was the experience valuable?

Coronavirus

We urge those of you who are already suffering from chronic pain to be careful as this coronavirus (Covid-19) situation develops in the U.S and the whole world for that matter.

The coronavirus is most dangerous to folks who are already sick.

You can go here for the latest updates.

Follow us on Twitter: @NatPainReport

Follow Ed on Twitter @edcoghlan

Subscribe to our blog via email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Authored by: Ed Coghlan

18
Leave a Reply

2000
18 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
15 Comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
Dana Wirth

I am not a vet and although it is shameful the way this country treats its veterans, there are millions of us out here being treated exactly the same way, with a total lack of humanity and doctors putting themselves first without a care for their patients. Our doctors have allowed uneducated, corrupt politicians and bureaucrats to dictate inhumane and deadly policies to them instead of following their Hippocratic oaths and remembering to “First do no harm.”
This past month my doctor wrote my prescription the following way:
15mg Morphine ER
Three times daily as needed
This has been forcefully tapered till it is almost useless and has left me the same way. Now for the surprise. This is a new doctor and I was a fool and did not read the prescription closely enough because she only gave me enough tablets for 19 days. Of course I eventually did realize this so started the phone calls. Pharmacy, why didn’t I have a full month prescription? Answer was that doctor only wrote for 56 tablets. Doctor, I need prescription for more morphine tablets to last entire month, answer no. She said I had been taking two a day so the 56 should have been enough. WELL, that was a load of crap, but I could do nothing but prepare myself for withdrawal. Because I am on Medicare I called them and they said I was owed a full month prescription for three tablets a day but they could do nothing to help me. I also called the pharmacy and my insurance company, United Healthcare, no help there either. So why would I talk to a psychologist? I wouldn’t because it would achieve nothing. I want to talk to someone with solutions, not platitudes. I will not feel any better until my medication is returned to an efficacious level and I am not treated as a criminal. I will not feel better until my sisters and brothers no longer end their lives because they can no longer live with the pain. If a psychologist can do all those things, then I will gladly talk to them.

Anthony Harding

I hope they bankrupt the VA and throw every person that works there in prison and throw away the key

Anthony Harding

I’ve known 4 people that have died because the VA doesn’t treat or care about chronic pain. Just like if you have chronic pain you can’t be treated for depression or anxiety which is absolutely crazy!!! That’s like telling someone you can only have one thing wrong with you, let’s say I have diabetes and cancer and you go to a doctor and he or she tells you sorry you can only be treated for one so pick take insulin or get chemo therapy. Again the government wants to kill off people with chronic pain and punish them for no reason. When one person gets pulled over for drinking and driving and gets put in jail do they punish every other person in the world that drinks liquor? No they don’t so why do it to people suffering from chronic pain?? Why are doctors and the government so blind and stupid?

Don Prue

‘VA UNDER FIRE’
I saw a psychiatrist several times at the VA and subsequently submitted a change of provider because she insisted on treating me for depression when I was diagnosed with chronic anxiety.
At issue: the [relatively] new warnings regarding treating stress/anxiety while being treated for chronic pain with opioids. That warning is essentially a ‘heads up’ that statistics show ~70% of patients receiving said treatment experienced …”breathing issues.” It DOES NOT forbid such concurrent treatment, it simply advises to do so with caution. Prescribing both is legal and acceptable.
When I told the VA psychiatrist I don’t want to be treated for something I don’t have and explained that I had received diazepam and oxycodone together for years and had the documentation to verify that she snapped back “…you want me to justify doing that with my colleagues when I’ve only been a psychiatrist for three years?!!”
The doctor who had prescribed both for me was my pain doctor for over 18 years and knew me very well. He also once told me that my pain tolerance is “…off the charts.”
I have had 5 back surgeries and pulled the pedicle screws lose twice by returning to work and trying to live a normal life between surgeries but the last surgery was a full spinal fusion and this time cannot be corrected. The hardware moves and touches nerves causing incredible pain AND ANXIETY. The diazepam helps control the anxiety and the spasm and helps me get some sleep.
Back to the shrink- she told me to get a script from my new pain doctor (who won’t because he doesn’t know me that well) and he told me to get it from a shrink. It has taken years for me to sort out the sources of my pain: neurological, spasm or spasm caused by anxiety. I want to treat source not the symptoms. I have documented every pill I’ve ever taken to ensure I don’t double dose and also to monitor reaction.
The stress between the untreatable pain and someday being denied meds is killing me.

Jeanette French

yes, and no the visit was not valuable, it was a total waste of time.

Pain is not all in our heads, it is in our bodies and talking about it is not going got make it go away, neither are anti depressants and Gaba;s that they are continually trying to shove down out throats. Pain is a real feeling, not based on emotion. It is based on our brain telling us we have pain. Force tapering medications is a huge issue right now and it is insane, cruel , inhumane, against patient bill of right, and civil rights, torture to pain patients who have been medically stable for decades.

Politicians want you to think they are doing something for the war on drugs but they are only hurting pain patients, while the street drugs continue to flow into our country killing your children unchecked. Portugal’s policies need to be adopted to save this country and treatment of pain patients needs to come away from politicians and back to the pain specialist who have spent their lives studying it. Show me one politician who knows as much as a pain specialist.

The politicians continue to harass doctors to the point of running them out of business and shattering the lives of their patients, and dictating the number of visits, also force tapering, forcing them to come in every month and some have to travel for hours due to some states no longer having pain clinics. And causing unjust suicide, basically murder by suicide, upon patients who can not find any relief.

Pain works as torture and any living thing will do anything to get away from it. That is why it is called torture. Why are politicians able to get away with torturing human beings whom are US citizens.

WILSON HULLEY

OUR NATIONAL VA IS A JOKE. OUR VA DOES NOT GIVE A DAMN ABOUT OUR VET’S. LIKE MY 23 FRIENDS, WE ALL GO TO PRIVATE MD’S FOR TREATMENT. DID CALL THE WHITE HOUSE AND WAS TOLD TO CALL THE VA. WHEN I WAS EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT TO REAGAN, GEORGE HW, GEORGE W. AND CLINTON…WE TOOK CARE OF OUR VET’S …….TODAY, WITH A PRESIDENT WHOSE FATHER PAID OFF THE SELECTIVE SERVICE ..WHAT CAN WE HOPE FOR….

WILSON HULLEY

OUR NATIONAL VA IS A JOKE!
CAN’T GET INTO THEIR PHONE LINES. ALWAYS BUSY! SUCH A SAD FEDERAL AGENCY. I HAVE 23 FRIENDS WHO ARE HAVING SIMILAR MEDICAL PROBLEMS…SO WE ALL GO TO A PRIVATE MD FOR TREATMENT. SO GOES OUR MILITARY SERVICE TO OUR COUNTRY.

THE VA FRANKLY – DOES NOT GIVE A DAMN ABOUT OUR VETS; INCLUDING MYSELF…..
.
SO WE END UP PAYING “OUT OF OUR OWN POCKETS” FOR PRIVATE MD TREATMENT……..;SO MUCH FOR SERVING OUR COUNTRY..

I DID CALL THE WHITE HOUSE FOR ASSISTANCE: THEIR ANSWER – WHAT DO YOU ASPECT US TO DO?

ANOTHER “DON’T GIVE A DAMN” POLITICAL REPLY. SO VERY SAD. MY US HOUSE AND SENATE MEMBER OFFICES ARE JUST AS DUMB. OBVIOUSLY, US VET’S ARE NOT BEING COUNTED……THESE HOUSE AND SENATE MEMBERS HAVE LOST MY VOTE. I AM PREPARING A LETTER TO THE EDITOR FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES. AND HAVE BEEN TOLD BY A FRIEND WITHIN THE NEW YORK TIMES THAT MY LETTER TO THE EDITOR WILL BE GIVEN TOP PRIORITY…I HOPE THEY ARE RIGHT. HAVE BEEN TOLD MANY VETS ARE “YELLING” TO THE VA.

Melinda Tarnow

I ‘ve been thru it all. Every natural cure, exercise, biofeedback, imaging , Pilates, injections, the whole schmo except surgery. I will not let them put their devices in my back, either as they also have many problems. All the so called “”NEW” drugs all have benorophenine in them and the side effect almost killed me. That include Suboxone, Belbueca. and Narcan. All off which are opioids or part, and addictive as opioids. After 4 years of tweaking here and there, my pain was managed with stretches, exercise, chiropractor care and those evil opioids. I’ve been in pain management for 15 yrs. I didn’t start on opioids, but nsaids. As my back grew worse and the pain. The treatment accommodated me. Woman have the right to choose to abort a fully developed baby. Why can’t I choose what is working for me. Now I’m being force tapered and I’m losing my quality of life because of what? Junkies on the street that we’ve had forever. By the way, I have been to a phycologist cuz I was told my 34 degree spine in all in my head. Really?

Debe Stanley

I’m having a really hard time finding a new painDr. Since my new insurance changed in Jan… because I’m on a Medicare plan and I’m on opioids no one will take me! I live in Va in Hampton Roads area! Any suggestions?? I’m on my last month from my previous Dr. Help please!!!!!

Roy Starling

The Va lied to me in Oregon in 2013 .I was given a new Doctor after my great doctor retired or was forced out. The 1st time meeting me and the first words out of his mouth were I’m going to save your life then said cutting your medication in half and next month and a half again and a half again. I did complain so I was put in a room with unknown therapist and head of Pain Clinic almost two hours of them saying pain was in my head and if after the taking me if I was still in pain they would put back on the dose that was on. After almost two years of begging I was ready to die only my wife convinced me to move to California and told me to use my Medicare to see a outside pain specialist surprise actually started doing much better than the opiate crisis and the pill counting in the pharmacies judging almost back to where I was and the VA probably says my case was successful because I am not getting treatment for pain. I hope more people sue only then maybe something will change 🙁

Roy Starling

Finally someone doing something
I to was mistreated by the VA. The only reason I am alive now is because I have Medicare also and was able to get help. For my pain that Greatly contribute to my mental health.

Terri Wetz

The problem we face is finding a good pain psychologist, someone trained and experienced to deal with the multifaceted issues of chronic pain patients. In my area (Columbus, OH) there is one…ONE…such skilled psychologist and he has been booked solid for years! I had to see him in order to get medical approval before receiving my first spinal cord stimulator around 15 years ago and again 2 months ago when considering a morphine pump implant. Those appointments were only possible through my pain management doctor because it is required before having any type of implant. Even then, I can’t see him on a regular basis nor has he been able to refer me to another because no psychologist wants to become involved in this field. His words, not mine. Through my 17 year journey I have seen 2 psychiatrists, 3 psychologists and 2 therapists, all of whom eventually dismissed me because they “don’t know how to help me”. This aspect of the integrative care philosophy seems (in my opinion) to be the weakest link. How do you think we can best shine a light on this?

Cindy R

I thought someone said in a post last week, that you can’t sue the government? Or was that only class action lawsuits?

Ed k

Dont believe what you heat about the va it is way worse

Hayden Hamby Jr

WHY are the best “judges” to force taper a patient, veterans, people born with or develop absolutely CRIPPLING unbearable pain for life…with no cure. The “experts” , inclusive of the DEA department that are not facing a painful, disabling pain management health issue our PHYSICIANS the “see” and treat patients literally going out of our minds with non stop, incurable, lifetime pain? Is $$$$$$ the REAL issue because more and more date proves that those of us with true medical issues that ONLY opiates and opioid MEDICATIONS can ease the pain enough to make live ….livable? The pain does NOT simply stop with opioid medication, it just eases pain enough to carry on with life activities that MUST be done. Hygiene, “grocery shopping”, cleaning your personal environment to keep it in a sanitary condition and in MANY cases, STAYING EMPLOYED! Of course we the patients do not wish to see anyone addicted to illicit substances or abuse prescribed medication but, ALL the experts and DEA has to do is take a simple look into the patients documentation and see that the condition is absolutely disabling and job security, well being, financial responsibilities, the freedom to worship as the Constitution “GUARANTEES” has been infringed upon through forced tapering of the ONLY medication that is “legal;” to be prescribed for KNOWN PAIN GENERATING disease, accidental injury, and harm done while serving America that ALLOWS us the freedom ….to choose! It is barbaric to force taper patients when our documentation PROVES that by FAR, we the patients use our medication in an effective dosage pre the 2016 “voluntary” guideline RESPONSIBLY! Again, of course we do not wish to see ANYONE overdose on ANY type substance, prescribed or illicit but, forced ‘tapering” of medication is NOT the answer and our physicians know this to be factual yet “no opiates” are rapidly becoming the normal. I would “bet” that EVERY “expert”, EVERY DEA agent, WILL USE opiate medication if “life” depended on it!

Maureen M.

After already being aware of how awful our Vets are being treated, this is yet another tragic sotory. I’ve grown a sorrowful and caring heart for them. God bless them and shame on the VA!!

John Davis

Unfortunately it is not only the VA that adopts these practices and even more unfortunate is the fact veterans as well as general public that are enrolled in qualified Pain Management clinics with documented chronic pain ihistory have come to a point that the pain is just intolerable, quality of life has deteriorated and the constant hassle trying to fight system to get prescriptions filled by pharmacies as well as being able to afford them when insurance companies don’t want to pay or make it so difficult to obtain them. Due to reduced supply is causing cost to rise, supplies to be limited and large pharmacies constantly moving the goal post in their policies. CVS in some location will not fill until the 30th day but when you go in only to find they are out of supply even though they have your scripts electronically sent to then 1 and half weeks in advance. Due to the fact it is schedule one they can not forward to another pharmacy without a complete new script electronically sent to different pharmacy. Nor will they partial fill prescription even though it is legal as long as it is completed within 3 days. We are treated like second class citizens even though we have been using same pharmacies for years with no issues. They get a new younger pharmacy mgr. and they are being taught either by company protocol or in pharmacy school that we are all just drug addicts. Yes most of us are dependent but not addicts. We manage our medications very responsibly, we need them to have a some what normal life. If ask most of us would do anything if we did not have to take them. The reasons we are in these situation are of no fault of our own. Failed medical procedures or due to incompetent physicians or just what life has dealt us. We go through life trying to be responsible, following all the rules and regulations only to be practically spit on by society due to all the negative publicity. So after a while you have had enough. We have all been there.

keith

some va drs don’t even speak english and are paid to lie.