Will, while I agree that prescription abuse is a problem, this bill will likely compound the problems faced by patients dying of cancer and their physicians, nurses and families. These are the people with intractable and unimaginable pain, usually in the last stages of life who are trying to die with dignity and some comfort. Physicians are increasingly scrutinized and second guessed about their pain management by insurance companies and government agencies. Sometimes patients have a very difficult time managing the whole prescription refill process already when they are too sick to make it to the physicians office for a written refill. Hospice nurses spend too much of their time getting pain meds authorized when they could be actually with a patient giving them comfort. Physicians spend too much time getting “permission” to treat their patients.
Physicians should be the drivers of bills like this is order to avoid unintended consequences. Not legislators and not government agencies. It is misguided (and perhaps grandiose) for anyone to believe that anyone but the medical professionals should decide what the rules are. Nobody else lives with the consequences, takes 2am phone calls, sits with people as their body fluids drain away and they writhe in pain, or lies in be alone worried that when the next pill wears off that they will suffer unimaginably. When you walk a mile in the well worn shoes of a hospice or VNA nurse, or an oncologist or NP, and when you too have experienced a family member in extremis, you will be prepared to address the issue. Judy Sullivan
Thanks, Judy, these eloquent points are well taken.
Clearly, practical and clinical considerations — best understood by practitioners — should guide the development of regulations on this issue. That is exactly what this bill contemplates. It establishes a clinical panel to make recommendations for regulations to the Department of Public Health.
The right solution will reduce abuse while protecting patients and clinicians managing serious pain. We’ll stay in touch with the progress of the issue.
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