Will, I’ve been meaning to write and thank you for working to tighten rules for prescription pain medication. As a social worker, I have encountered tragic situations of families ruined by prescription drug addiction. Most poignant was a juvenile court investigation for a family involved with DCF. The mother was getting monthly prescriptions for her 11 year old daughter’s alleged migraines but the school was unaware of any headaches and the mother never brought the child for follow up testing to identify the cause of the problem. Armed with a court order, I visited Emergency Rooms throughout the Metrowest area and learned that in the past year, the mother had over 30 emergency room visits, each resulting in a prescription for pain medication, for maladies including lower back pain, upper back pain, shoulder pain, and foot pain caused by being stepped on by an elephant at the circus. I requested information from CVS about mother’s prescription history and received a 78 page fax that included scripts filled at CVS stores throughout the region. It did not appear that the doctors, hospitals, or pharmacies had ever coordinated the available information. One hospital record did have a warning about drug-seeking behavior — which was ignored by every doctor she saw there. Sadly, the cost to this woman, her family, and the health care system went unaddressed.
Thanks for speaking out on this, Susan. People with addictions do sometimes abuse the easy trust of physicians. The proposed system should help physicians recognize these cases more readily.
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