Doctors to tell lawmakers of patients left suffering because of opioid crackdown

I-Team: Doctors to tell lawmakers of patients left suffering because of opioid crackdown

LAS VEGAS – Despite their influence and stature, Nevada physicians are not overtly political, but it looks like doctors are planning to make their presence known at the Nevada Legislature this year.

Monday is designated as doctor day at the legislature, where physicians and medical organizations hope to make an impression on lawmakers.

One issue at the top of their list of concerns is the regulation of pain management, which doctors say has become burdensome for them and deadly for their patients.

Hours after being released from a month-long hospital stay, Theresa Hatter told the I-Team about the moment she was first diagnosed with arachnoiditis.

“I couldn’t see. It was the worst pain I ever had. If you were saying pain on a scale of 1 to 10, I was at a 15,” Hatter said.

For 16 years, she was a model  patient in pain management. Opioid medication was her only relief. Then out of the blue, her doctor told her goodbye and good luck.

Reporter George Knapp: “With pain medication you had a life?”

Theresa Hatter: “I had a life.”

Reporter George Knapp: “And now you don’t?”

Theresa Hatter: “I’m in bed.”

In the 90s, Tracy Davis was shot in the back. The bullet ripped through his stomach and lung and is still inside, until recently his insurance paid for pain medication. But then the culinary union plan ordered his doctor to cut the meds in half.

Reporter George Knapp: “Someone decided you don’t need it?”

Tracy Davis: “Yes. They never even ran a test on me.”

Across the country, the great opioid crackdown continues. Doctors have been pressured into cutting or eliminating pain medications against their own medical judgements. Insurance companies have cut or eliminated coverage. Pharmacy chains have imposed their own — often severe — limitations or requirements.

Doctors like Maurice Gregory are squeezed by regulators, lawmakers, insurance executives, and pharmacists, none of whom have examined the actual patients.

“This anti-opiate has gotten to the extreme of sacrificing people’s lives,” said Dr Maurice Gregory, Las Vegas physician. “We are already sacrificing people’s quality of life.”

Opioid prescriptions are now at their lowest point in 15 years, but overdose deaths are at their highest in that same time. Cutting medications for legitimate pain patients has had no effect on addicts’ overdosing.

What it has done is to create suffering for millions of people whose mistake was they got sick or injured and are now expected to live the rest of their lives in pain.

“You can live 30, 40, 50 years with these diseases. The only thing you can do for them is control the pain. There’s no reason, why would we not want to do that,” said Terry Murphy, public policy consultant. “And yet we are taking medication away from them and forcing them to live in torture in America in 2019. Why?”

Murphy has had multiple surgeries and was a pain patient herself. Now, she is helping Nevada doctors to mobilize. Murphy and others including medical associations are gearing up to make their presence known at the Nevada Legislature. Among the goals is to get a handle on changes imposed two years ago which give pharmacists the ability to deny or alter prescriptions or to make excessive demands for patient information or new tests.

“These decisions need to be made between a doctor and a patient and what is happening is between a doctor, a pharmacy benefit manager, a pharmacist, an insurer, and the patient gets lost in that equation and the doctor who really wants to help the patient is frustrated,” Murphy said.

While doctors here feel under the gun, Murphy says Nevada is already less draconian than some states. She thinks that pending legislation could make Nevada into a model for the rest of the country, with appropriate safeguards, but also something missing from the system — compassion. 

It sounds like from this report the Nevada state legislature has turned the Medical Licensing Board into a PAPER TIGER. The legislature has apparently granted about anyone that has something to do with the healthcare system in Nevada the legal right to practice medicine.  Don’t have to have a medical degree, don’t have to do a in person physical exam/evaluation… just create some personal or corporate “cookie cutter policies” that can be applied to EVERYONE.

I guess that the DEA could care less that controlled meds are being started, changed, stopped without the person – or corporation – doing it has done a in person exam/evaluation – as required by the Controlled Substance Act 1970.

The vast majority of the people who have a legal medical necessity for controlled meds are covered by the Americans with Disability Act.. so where are the civil rights attorneys or organizations. Nevada has 3 + million people so average stats would suggest that there are abt 300,000 intractable chronic pain pts in the state and another 700,000 or so dealing with some sort of chronic pain and at least on occasions have the need to have a opiate to get their pain under control.

Are these legislators believing the FACTOIDS that are being thrown around they are meaningful ?  Are these FACTOIDS drowning out the REAL FACTS that have no relationship to those FACTOIDS ?

11 Responses

  1. ” so where are the civil rights attorneys or organizations. ”

    I know exactly where they are, as I & many people I know personally have repeatedly contacted them. They are deliberately staying out of the issue completely. They never explain exactly why, so we’re left with various theories, some of which sound like crackpot conspiracy theories, or would have a coupla years ago. Now, however….??

    The main Oregon “civil & disabled rights” org replied to repeated queries about HERC banning all pain meds for all disabled & chronic pain patients by saying: “Regarding the issue of the OHA proposal involving opiod [sic] pain medications, DRO is aware of the issue. Our legal staff will determine our level of involvement in the public debate. [] …This concludes the information and self-advocacy assistance that Disability Rights Oregon can give you at this time on this issue. I am closing your intake.”

    Just heartwarming, ain’t it?

  2. I believe everyone should be made aware of what’s going on in Every State, not just Nevada. It’s a great start though as most physicians aren’t willing to work with our advocacy groups. We’re trying desperately to have those guidelines reviewed and revised. Mainly because they were intended for primary care physicians and acute or opioid naive patients! How can our State Of Ct participate in something like this with legistion ? We’ve sent emails, written testimonials and some have been able to show up in person to relay their stories. Nothing has swayed anyone’s attention, thoughts, Regulations or even proposed laws yet. Before more pain patients submit to suicide to relieve their intractable pain, please help us and many other states including the president understand what’s happening is inhumane. Thank you

  3. Excellent question, ‘Where are the civil rights attorneys or organizations?‘

    There are so many pain patients and caring people in health care. This really is a war and we need a united front.

    I am a responsible adult, not ashamed of being sick or treating severe pain and I don’t want or need the advice of a rehab specialist/psychiatrist who has never met me. I don’t think it’s too much to want to live in peace and with a bit less pain!

    Every day I pray for someone in government to grow a spine! It’s been devastating to countless people and it’s gone on far too long.

    Thank you for all you do!

  4. I’m glad there are medical professionals willing to stand and fight with us. I hope that legislators are actually taking this seriously and are making the changes that we desperately need and not just smiling and nodding, pretending to listen. I’m grateful to all who continue to fight, even though the pain, we have no other choice.

  5. I got a botched Laproscopic surgery 12 years ago. my illiougenal and genital femoral nerves were severed ,my abdominal wall cut to half its thickness. My life as I knew it ended . Felt as though I was amputated from the waste down. Two repair surgeries put clips on the end of cut nerves, in hopes of decreasing nerve signals. They put mesh in abdomen. Then mesh broke and migrated, mesh was then cut out of me 3 years ago, along with more abdominal wall. leaving a massive weakness and scar tissue plus the nerve pain throbbing down my left leg. I have fought my way out of a wheelchair 3 times, thanks to pain management. Force tapered by 75% last year. Now, back in a wheelchair, constant pain,isolation, and no hope. A model pain patient with same Dr. Over 10 years. WHY ? Because some people are out of control ? Why am I being punished after all I have been through ? I either wait too die, or leave the USA.

  6. I applaud this doctor and any more who are willing to step up and help people with chronically painful diseases. Correct use is NOT ABUSE!

    • Thank you for announcing the Don’t Punish Pain Rally! I’m also a member of a group, Ct Chronic Pain Patients fighting to be heard at the State level, including Senators. Goal is to get our demands met, which is only to be treated with the decency once given in treating our chronic intractable pain by our trained and experienced physicians who we have trusted. We’ve been law abiding citizens and don’t deserve to be disrespected like this any longer!

  7. I am dieing because of this war on us that hurt in pain it’s homside by talking my meds every time they take more meds from me the worse I get I was able to take care of of.myself but now it so hard to do anything I live in my chair all the time now no life for me anymore and I am only 53 years old and I don’t think I will make it much longer because of my is out control I don’t even sleep anymore because of this pain I am in all the time

  8. Always appreciate your hard work Steve on our behalf. Your information is impeccable. Keep fighting!

    • DITTO,,,, on Mr.Arians,,,the quickest mind I have ever met,,,and no need to brown to this guy,,,We need a mind like his to combat these idiots ,thus to save lives,,,maryw

  9. Perfectly Said Dr. Steve.

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