Regulating medicine through criminal law enforcement is misguided and counterproductive, and could lead to fewer physicians, especially in the chronic pain management field. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, there is already likely to be a shortage of 124,400 doctors by 2025. There are medical professionals today who specialize in "self-defense," by putting their own desire to stay out of criminal court above the interest of the patient. Some flat-out refuse to treat those with chronic pain due to the ever-present oppression and intimidation by law enforcement. The Hippocratic Oath should not be at war with the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Individualism and self-determination are fundamental values that most of us cherish; however, in medicine, they rest on the pharmacy's dusty back shelf. Medical paternalism is outdated and not a panacea.
America needs a new prescription; and frankly, I think Michael Jackson would agree.
Charlotte Laws is an author and has a doctorate in Social Ethics.
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