PALLIATIVE CARE diagnosis – exempts pt from daily opiate limits

Chronic pain sufferers applaud changes to opioid limits law

AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — People taking opioid painkillers for chronic pain are breathing a little easier. A new state law that went into effect Friday is clearing up confusion about how much a patient can legally take.

The law used to require people taking opioids to taper down their daily doses to no more than 100 morphine milligram equivalents, with exceptions only for those under hospice or palliative care in connection with a serious illness.

Doctors knew they could prescribe more for patients treated for cancer or hospice care, but many didn’t think they could go over that limit for patients with chronic pain. This new law makes it clear that people with chronic pain can be exempt.

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Brian Rocket, a midcoast lobster wholesaler was one of those patients who was told by his doctor several months ago that he had to taper down his opioid dose to meet a new state law. He suffers from chronic pain from prior injuries and was worried he wouldn’t be able to run his business.

With the new law in effect, he says his doctor’s now confident that Brian is exempt from that 100-milligram limit and can accept a higher dose.

“I’ve certainly been reclassified under the palliative care back to where I was on medicine and I can function,” he said. “I can live to fight another day.”

People prescribed opioids for pain seek changes to Opioid Rx Limits Law

Eric Wass, a roofing contractor, who for 20 years has been taking opioids to manage chronic pain, was also forced to taper down and is also now allowed a higher dose. He said it’s made all the difference.

“I can work all day and I have a vegetable garden over there now,” he said, “so it’s giving me my life back because it was being taken away from me.”

Both men went so far as to hire a lawyer to sue the state and then testified at public hearings about the need to change the law.

VERIFY: Can people with chronic pain be exempt from Maine’s opioid RX limits?

Lawmakers heard those pleas and passed a bill the governor signed — offering relief for those who found themselves dependent on painkillers after having them legally prescribed by their doctors.

“It’s not much fun,” Wass said. “I’m not proud of it. I don’t like it, but I don’t have much choice.”

Maine DHHS expressed concerns about adding too many exemptions to the law, saying that excessive overprescribing of opioid painkillers is what led to this epidemic that Maine and the nation are now facing.

World Health Organization definition of palliative care:

Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual. Palliative care:

  • provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms;
  • affirms life and regards dying as a normal process;
  • intends neither to hasten or postpone death;
  • integrates the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care;
  • offers a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death;
  • offers a support system to help the family cope during the patients illness and in their own bereavement;
  • uses a team approach to address the needs of patients and their families, including bereavement counselling, if indicated;
  • will enhance quality of life, and may also positively influence the course of illness;
  • is applicable early in the course of illness, in conjunction with other therapies that are intended to prolong life, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, and includes those investigations needed to better understand and manage distressing clinical complications.

6 Responses

  1. Unfortunately this does not help those who just hae severe back problems and nothing else. This is considered by many in the Health care community as the step before you go into hospices and is not for those who just a few problems that in the long term have death. Now if I did not take care of myself again 100 pound and get diabetes and did not manage that then I woukd probably be excepted.

  2. This is very encouraging but I’m disturbed by the Maine DHHS comments that blame opioid prescriptions for the alleged opioid epidemic. Shows just how far we have to go that an open porous border with drugs pouring over is never addressed yet patients and doctors are blamed. Even when statistics show that most overdoses occur with illegal illicit fetanyl or methadone drug combinations. I’m one of the WA State patients who’s had my life destroyed by the state abruptly suspending my pain physician’s license. I hope something like this happens in my state before we lose anymore patients suffering to suicide. D

  3. […] PALLIATIVE CARE diagnosis – exempts pt from daily opiate limits […]

  4. What kind of illnesses do you have to have besides Chronic Pain to get Paliative Care. I have just found out I have COPD and I have suffered fron Axinixt Disorder since 1987 and my Doctor as kept me on medication so I wont have 4 to 5 panic attacks a day now he is wanting to take me off it I don’t want to loose my PCP but I read the Alprazalam helps people with COPD breath better and he has lowered it from 2mg every 6 hours to 1 or 2 every 12 hours but the amount is only 45 a 22 dy supply any ssuggestions.

  5. I’m so happy for them! They can rest assured that they won’t be taken off higher doses of medication. They can run their businesses or work now. Makes me so happy that at least one state has a heart and made the right changes.

    I’m hoping this will help other states move the right direction. I live in Ohio and I hope that maybe we can get the same. It’s inhumane what we’re put thru! If I had the money I’d do the same as those men. Unfortunately I don’t.


  6. Amen,,,,,,,,I hope it helps alllll!!!!!!!!!!!and it about f—- time!!!!,,,,I worry however,,,,the dea,,,,,,going after them,,,we all know how inhumane and corrupt they are!!!!!!!,,maryw

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