Pain never killed anyone ??? Denial of care – most definitely !

Bob Mason and his dog Sophie.

Pain Helped Him Pull The Trigger

Imagine what would happen if a person called up a physician’s practice or emergency room and said that they needed to be seen/treated for some life threatening disease … and was told that they didn’t treat people with a life threatening disease ?

Recently a pain clinic in South Bend was found guilty of  discriminating against a pain pt..  for refusing to treat the pt’s pain… not because of denial of care of his pain.. but.. refusal to treat the pt because of his HIV + status.

The pain clinic was FINED $30,000 of which the pt got $20,000.  Would the outcome have been the same if the pt did not have HIV and just treatment of the pt’s pain had been involved ?

This case was handled TOTALLY by the US DOJ… Is the DOJ telling us that those who are handicapped/disabled because of pain… not worthy of protection under the ADA ?  Is the DOJ discriminating against those that they are sworn to protect under the ADA ?


  • Award compensatory damages, including damages for pain, suffering, and emotional distress, to aggrieved persons under 42 U.S.C. § 12188(b)(2)(B), for injuries suffered as the result of Defendant’s violations of Title III of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12181-89, and its implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. Part 36;
  • Assess a civil penalty against Defendant in the maximum amount authorized by 42 U.S.C. § 12188(b)(2)(C), to vindicate the public interest; and
  • Order such other appropriate relief as the interests of justice may require.


Discriminating against pain…. OK ??? …but if you have HIV… good to go ??

When Bob Mason decided to end his life with a self-inflicted gunshot, his pain helped him pull the trigger.

Mason died in January. He was 67 years old. His daughter, Shane Mieski, says her father had been without pain-killing drugs for about a week when he died.

“For the last couple weeks up until Bob passed away, there were a lot of tears everyday on the phone,” Mieski said, “between the pain and really just the sadness of not being able to walk his dog, which, I’m sure it was more than that. There would be tears, then he would joke,” she said, “then he’d call back an hour later and be teary and in pain again.”

One of Mason’s doctors was Mark Ibsen in Helena. Ibsen shut his practice last winter, after being investigated by the Montana Board of Medical Examiners for over-prescribing the powerful and addictive painkillers known as opioids.

That meant Bob Mason lost his access to the painkillers he needed to make his life bearable. Mieski says she remembers her dad talking about seeing another doctor in Butte to get relief. But he was in too much pain to make the trip from his home in Helena.

“An hour down and an hour back, it was too painful,” Mieski said. “He would wince every time he sat down, and cringe, and I swear I could hear his back creaking every time he stood up.”

In March a group of chronic pain patients in Montana presented what they call a “pain patient’s bill of rights” to the state legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee. Terri Anderson from Hamilton was one of them.

“On behalf of all those who suffer pain, and Robert Mason, who took his own life because of uncontrolled pain,” Anderson said to the committee. “We are a diverse group of patients,” she said. “We come from all walks of life, and we believe the treatment of our chronic intractable pain is a fundamental human right.”

Anderson says the pain patient’s bill of rights is based on similar legislation in California. Lawmakers there found that the state has a right and duty to control the illegal use of opioid drugs. They also found that for some patients, inadequate treatment of acute and chronic pain is a significant health problem.

California’s pain patient’s bill of rights allows a patient to request or reject the use of any or all techniques in order to relieve their pain.

Credit Corin Cates-Carney

According to The Montana Medical Association, prescription drugs contributed to more than 300 deaths in Montana between 2011 and 2013. The Association says kids in Montana have the third highest prescription drug abuse rate in the country.

“The pendulum has swung, and the legitimate pain patients cannot get their medications. Especially in Montana.”

“Opioids were given out like jelly beans,” Pain Patient Advocate Terri Anderson acknowledges. “People did become addicted, and [there were] too many deaths from these prescribing habits. But the pendulum has swung, and the legitimate pain patients cannot get their medications. Especially in Montana.”

California’s first version of the pain patient’s bill of rights became law in 1997.

Los Angeles area doctor Forest Tennant advocated for it. He now treats patients who come from states all over the country – including Montana – who can’t find effective pain treatment at home.

“The last week or two has just been unbearable,” he said. “We hardly want to take the phones, [because of] the number of people calling that want to come here.”

Dr. Forest Tennant treats pain patients from all over the country at his practice in West Covina, CA.
Credit Corin Cates-Carney

“A lot of it is, doctors in other states don’t want to treat anybody,” Tennant says.

“We’ve been at this since World War II, when we had a lot of sailors and soldiers settle here. And so, in California, believe it or not, we have the lowest per-capita prescribing of schedule-2 opioids. That’s because we’ve been at training and programs for decades.”

To an untrained doctor, Tennant says, addicts and pain patients can look similar. He says education in the medical community about pain management and opioids is almost nonexistent.

“Here is the thing the public doesn’t get,” he says. “The government doesn’t get it, the universities don’t get it, and I don’t know why this is so hard to understand.

“The CDC has got these guidelines. All they do is reiterate what is standard care anyway,” Tennant says. “In other words, you have standard care. That’s non-pharmacological medication, physical therapy, injections, surgery, topical medications, psychotherapy – and all of those things have to be tried before a patient can come here. Opioids are not an option; they are the last resort when there is no other option. You don’t use them until everything else has failed. Big myth. Big misunderstanding.”

“Opioids are not an option, they are the last resort when there is no other option. You don’t use them until everything else has failed.”

Doctor Marc Mentel chairs a Montana Medical Association committee on prescription drug abuse.

“I know nationally there is a big move to regulate these medicines, and have tighter regulations, and right now legislation is being considered,” Metel says. “A lot of us are proposing [that] education is really what we need to do. The opioid problem is a big problem in the U.S. and we have to face it and take it head-on. But at the same point in time, as we take that on, we don’t want to throw out patients who also suffer from chronic pain and may benefit from these medicines. And some of them leave with actually better quality of life with them being available.”

Mentel testified at the Montana legislative committee hearing on the pain patient’s bill of rights in March.

“Right now the exact means and ability to know what is the best way to manage chronic pain, what are the tools available, what is available out there? We are still developing the science,” Mentel told the committee.

“A pain patient’s bill of rights – although I agree with everything that is on there that they are talking about today, I agree with them wholeheartedly, it is actually in my oath I took as a physician to treat everyone as if I would want to be treated myself. I’m just fearful that a bill of rights, or some mandates for physicians to practice in a certain way, could get legislation ahead of the science.”

Mary Caferro (D) SD41.
Credit Montana Legislature

“What I think is important is that we have the discussion,” says state Senator Mary Caferro, “and if I as a legislator can in anyway assist with that, I’m going to do it.”

The Helena Democrat says she’ll put in a bill draft request for the 2017 legislative session, but she isn’t sure yet if she’ll be a formal sponsor for a pain patient’s bill of rights.

“Drug addiction is a problem, it is a very serious problem,” Caferro says. “What I don’t want to see happen, and what has been identified as a problem, is that people who really need access to medication get swept up in the drug addiction. They are two separate issues. You have drug addiction, and you have people who need medicine for their pain management. Those are two separate issues.”

Bob Mason, the pain patient from Helena who committed suicide, moved to Montana to try to get relief in 2012. He got a spinal cord stimulator implant, but afterwards, still needed opioids.

His daughter, Shane Mieski, said he didn’t like the drugs, but there were no other options.

“The opioids, they cause other issues,” Mieski says. “Your body starts to feel slow and a little overwhelmed, as he would mention. You don’t feel super sharp and on top of your game. At a certain point, there was nothing more that doctors could do for his type of pain. So, as a 67-year-old person, I think that you should try to enjoy any quality of life you get. And if that means taking medication to function, give them what they need.”

Opium-derived drugs are a two-headed beast. One clenches its jaws around addicts, whose lives it can crush. The other offers relief that can make life worth living, at least for long enough to allow a man like Bob Mason to feel like he can walk his dog.

The American Academy of Pain Medicine says a hundred million Americans suffer with chronic pain. That’s more than the number of people with diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined.

Read the first part of this series on pain patients’ access to opioid painkillers in Montana.

This story was made possible, in part, by a grant from the Montana Health Care Foundation. 



6 Responses

  1. psss,,one other quick point,,,15 years ago,,when my chronic physical pain started,,because I was a women,,for 3 years,prior, i received no medicine for my physical pain,they claimed because I was a women my physical pain was due to panic attacks..Until 1 pain management doctor stated,panic attacks don’t cause physical pain!!,,,I ended up getting 17 cardiac ablations,,all from being forced to endure physical pain,from undianosed tumor with in the spinal cord/collaspoed lower lung,pancreatitis,gallbladder stones,,,Inverted segment changes were always occurring whilest I was forced to endure physical pain,again because I was a women,they blammed the ekg machine or me,for touching my leads,even though I never touched em’,,not to mention the 90 pound weight loss,,Sooo,,forced endurement of physical pain,,can/will cause cardiac arrhythmias,,and permantly damage ones heart,,I know,,because it happen’d to me!!maryw

  2. I disagree w/the ,”sharpness” comment,,,U know,,I thought of a very simple way to show all these opiatephobs,senatores,abuser’s of their ,”just power,” so called human’s,,I would love to go to speak in front of hhs,,,and have like 20 fellow chronic physical pain people stand behind each senator,,literally,,,and literally pinch the back of their arms,,till it really hurt,,,Then ask them as we pinch their arms,,,now,,,talk on the phone,,work on your computer,,,walk,,,,,and see if they could do it,,,Then when they asked us to stop pinching there arms,,,,so NO,, tough,,,endure your physical pain,,,then when they beg us to stop pinching their arms,,,again,,,so no,,,,Make then feel what we feel,,,at any time,,,they can opt out,,,but that’s our point,,,chronic physical pain people don’t have that option,,,ever!!!!,,,
    Jmo,,we need to start getting these aweful death documented for what they truly are,,”death due to untreated physical pain,”Out of respect for our dead,,,the very least these opiatephobs could do is honor their death w/truth!!!
    Personally I think all these restriction for access to our meds has more to do w/giving the dea a reason to arrest our doctors,,,As it stands right now,,,the dea is losing like 90 % of the cases they bring into court,,,because prior to the cdc guidelines a Physician could write a script for ANY REASON,,,,,Now the dea can state in a court of law,,”so u choose not to follow the cdc guidelines,”even though they are so-called voluntary ,,obviously many citizens/doctors are viewing them as law,,and sooo will any juror,,,,,or judge
    There was a huge powwow about 1 month ago w/the cdc,hhs,dea,nida,,,I would love to get a copy of those meeting notes??I bet they will show the collusion of all 4 to bring great harm onto the physically ill.
    .But to get back to my original disagreement,,I do not believe our medicines effect our sharpness in a negative way… think it actually sharpens our awareness ,,because our physical pain is lessen’d ,,thus allowing our mind to concentrate MORE on the tasked at hand,,,,Theee arrogance +ignorance is sooo obvious sometimnes,,,,its sickens my soul,,because I truly believe these people,[government]] r killing soo many good people,,,because of the arrogances combined w/theire ignorance about tru chronic PHYSICAL pain,,
    Jmo,,I think chronic pains name should be changed to chronic PHYSICAL pain CPP,or CMPC,,,,Chronic Medically Painful Condition !,,maryw

  3. I have been bed ritten over a year no pain medication before of so call abuse. Of other what I do to help myself and other. In Texas

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