By Ed Coghlan
You’ll remember our story on Michael Young—the retired Michigan fire fighter—who has been pressing local media in Lansing that covers the “opioid crisis” to include the plight of the chronic patient. Turns out that Michael isn’t the only advocate in his family. His wife Susan recently presented the point of view of the patient from the perspective of a loved one to a panel that included Michigan Congressman Tim Walberg and Lt. Governor Brian Calley. The panel was sponsored by WLNS.
Here are some excerpts from her prepared “testimony”.
I’d like to convey my thoughts on a large group of people that we don’t hear from or we don’t hear about them in the media coverage or political positions and how the CDC Guidelines along with the interpretation and enforcement of said guidelines are hurting these people and destroying their lives and the lives of their families.
The group of people I’m referring to are legitimate Chronic Pain Patients. These people may have been injured on the job (firefighters, police officers, construction workers) or may have been injured in a car accident. They have taken all the appropriate steps according to their doctors (i.e.: surgery (s), rehab, physical therapy, etc.) and have reached the point that prescribed Opiate Therapy is the only thing that works.
When I say it “works” … I mean it allows them to:
- Keep their jobs and continue to work
- Take care of their homes
- Take care of their families
- Be present & active in their children’s lives
- Maintain a certain level of “QUALITY of LIFE”
These people use their Opiate Medication responsibly:
- As prescribed
- Safeguarded from their children
- Safeguarded from their children’s friends
The CDC Guidelines for the Opiate usage (reduction) which was released in May 2016, has had a dramatic, negative impact of the legitimate Chronic Pain Patient community. Their daily dose has been reduced anywhere from 25% - 75% and in many cases withheld entirely. Their Quality of Life is gone resulting in the loss of their jobs, homes, marriages and in some tragic cases their lives (suicide).
The CDC Guidelines are good in theory to assist Primary Care Physicians and to provide recommendations on steps to take for a new acutely injured patient … NOT for the already legitimate Chronic Pain Patient … and NOT for the Doctors that specialize in Rehabilitation and Pain Management.
So, what should be viewed as “Guidelines” which give doctors that specialize in the treatment and management of pain patients the ability to prescribe appropriately for each individual patient has turned into a mandate of 1 treatment plan for all … regardless of a specific patient and their needs … and regardless of their demonstrated history of responsible opiate usage.
The CDC and Insurance companies are putting pressure on doctors and in many cases threatening doctors if they deviate from the Guidelines (prescribe higher doses of Opiates). These threats include potential loss of their medical license, or insurance companies not covering the doctors or the patients. In some cases, even if the doctor stands up to the CDC & Insurance companies … Pharmacies are refusing to fill the legitimate prescriptions.
So, what I’m asking for, is the same amount of airtime and coverage for this group of people to help push back against the CDC/Insurance companies by allowing doctors to prescribe as they see fit. Please don’t penalize the Chronic Pain Patients … Please tell their story (s) and help them get their lives back!!! Please do this while you continue to pursue all the good works already discussed tonight.
Thank you for your time.