Ms. Jones is a 62-year-old St. Louis resident, who has many ailments including problems with her entire spine, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, failed back surgery and more. She had been prescribed Duragesic patches and Percocet for pain for years. Over the last couple of years, she had been requesting an increase in medication as her dose was not relieving her pain, especially with new diagnoses. Recently, she was dropped by her pain management physician. She then requested pain medication from her primary physician, who also refused. She wrote a letter to the Registration Board complaining about this. While surfing the Internet, she came across shocking information regarding pain medication and physicians.
One article that stated that beginning in January of 2012, there will be new rules and regulations in the way physicians prescribe pain medications. Already many physicians have begun dropping patients that primarily see them for pain medication. It is not known how many patients in St. Louis have been dumped by physicians so far.
A woman in Tucson “spent four years in bed before she could find a doctor to get rid of her daily migraines.” Another woman in Sierra Vista “couldn’t find a doctor there to treat her postsurgery pain and has traveled to Tucson for two years for care.” A third woman, “who has fibromyalgia, was about to go on disability when she found a doctor who could reduce her pain and get her back to work.” These women “require prescriptions for narcotics or opioids, such as methadone, OxyContin and morphine.”
Seniors here in St. Louis, including Ms. Jones, who require opioids may not be financially able to travel for medications.
She has been trying for the last three years or so to get her physician to increase her medication hopefully enabling her to do some type of work. She is not a recreational drug user now or in the past. She tried to make her physician understand that even though he considered her pain medication dose to be high it was not enough to control her pain. “Physicians often undertreat patients with pain because of concerns about drug abuse, while at the same time they may fall prey to drug-seeking patients.”
Ms. Jones spends the majority of her time in bed due to her acute and chronic pain. The Duragesic patches and Percocet was never enough to completely alleviate the pain; therefore, she daily lies on a heating pad as hot as tolerated to help with pain. Occasionally, she has burns over her back from the heating pad, but states the heat along with medication does seem to reduce the pain somewhat (although one should not use heat when using Duragesic patches). Patients are probably dying because many physicians undertreat leaving them find other methods of coping. Most patients are not purposely abusing medication, but when undermedicated whose fault is it when patients seek medication elsewhere?
The top story is that physicians no longer want to deal with patients on pain medication. One physician stated he is glad to be rid of his medication patients. Beginning in January this will be the trend. Also, one hospital has stopped seeing any patients on Medicare due to amount reimbursed. The majority of Ms. Jones’ neighbors are retired seniors on pain medicine and Medicare. All seniors and/or family members here in St. Louis need to write to their congressmen and even President O’Bama. Something has to be done urgently.