We are against any legislation that further infringes upon our constitutional rights; however, in creating a system that would alert law enforcement to those who misuse our medical system, such privacy issues could be alleviated by creating a reasonable "trigger" that would identify these criminals that Congress could easily implement and also protect our rights to privacy. There are times when a patient visits another physician, who, because of another medical issue that has changed for that particular patient, justifies prescribing stronger medication. However, this situation only presents itself once in a great while, and such a pharmacy database legislation, if it contains reasonable language, could be implemented and would reveal those who have a history of abusing Pain Clinics, not isolated incidents. (IMO) Any legislation that is enacted should require stringent monitoring and restriction to ensure that only those who abuse the system are targeted, not legitimate chronic pain patients!
Now, to address the issues that I believe cast a pall on legitimate Chronic Pain Clinics; in the above article, it states:
"These pain clinics don't take insurance and they don't take credit cards, it's all cash," Allen said. "These doc-in-the-box places can open up overnight and unless we get complaints, we don't know about them."
The above statement can be true, however it overlooks two (s) important facts:
1. When a new Pain Clinic opens its doors, Medicare approval does not occur instantaneously! I am a patient of Gainesville Pain Management, and when they first opened their doors, it took over a year for them to receive Medicare approval, and they are hardly a "Pill Mill" and have extremely stringent rules that each patient must obey. One must sign a "Contract with their Doctor" and are advised that Doctor Shopping in the State of Georgia is a felony, so those that do abuse their policy essentially have no legal defense if law enforcement catches them attempting to procure prescriptions from another source.
2. I have confidential sources (Physicians) who have told me that some Pain Clinics are attempting to divest themselves of Medicare recipients, and will not accept new Medicare patients because the government does not properly compensate them for their services, and after looking carefully at my monthly Medicare statements I wholeheartedly agree that they are underpaid for the services they provide. This is another issue that Washington must correct; if they continue cutting Medicare payments to physicians, especially those that engage in "specialty practices," we can expect this phenomenon to increase, and more and more elderly and disabled Americans will find that they have nowhere to receive adequate medical attention if Congress continues to "steal from Peter to pay Paul."
I haven't made it a secret that I have been searching for a legitimate pain clinic that is closer to home, as I'm experiencing transportation problems, and the drive to Gainesville is quite a ways from Lawrenceville, and I recently called a handful of Pain Clinics that were listed on the Internet to see if I could find one closer to home. One of those clinics was Pain Express, the one currently under investigation in Kennesaw, Georgia, that helped to prompt the publication of this article. A few days before this story was released by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, I received a call from a young physician, who sounded extremely pleasant and sexy, who stated she was a Doctor at Pain Express and wanted to know if I still wanted to be considered for their services. (I now realize that this wasn't likely a Dr. at all, as they had closed their doors; it was most likely a DEA Agent attempting to entrap me into doing something illegal.) Luckily, my son had informed me that Kennesaw was even further away than Gainesville, and I had also taken the time to examine their Internet advertising, and that they were a "Pill Mill" was evident from their own foolish advertising. Talk about dumb criminals" Anyway, when they called, I promptly refused to become one of their patients.
If you follow the above link to Pain Express's advertisement, please note that they advertise that they "Specialize in Oxycodone Pain Treatment." This is a red flag to anyone that understands Chronic Pain Clinics, and that goes double for the DEA! Don't they have Internet access too? Why did they have to wait for complaints to know that this clinic was not above-board? When a new patient is evaluated at a pain clinic, the first thing that usually occurs is a drug test to ensure that the patient isn't using any illegal substances or a variety of different pain medications. Then, during the course of the interview, the physician may question the patient on what has or has not worked for them in the past. However, when a patient demands a specific pain killer like Oxycontin, that immediately sends a red flag to the Doctor. When you have cancer, you don't "advise" your physician which methodology should be used to treat your disease, and when you demand a specific medication to treat chronic pain, most Doctors take issue with patients attempting to dictate their treatment, and it's the quickest way I know of to be thrown out of a reputable Pain Clinic. When a Pain Clinic advertises that they "specialize in oxycodone" to treat chronic pain, that should immediately send the same red flags to law enforcement agencies, which is why I question why it took too long to identify Pain Express as a Pill Mill.
Finally, I have a question for the medical community, or in the alternative, for the DEA. Two months ago, I almost died when my blood pressure spiked to 248/196, and when I went to the Gwinnett Medical Center for treatment (An extremely reputable Hospital, and one of the best in our area.), they stated that I was extremely lucky that I didn't stroke-out and die in my sleep. I had recently been taken off an anti-anxiety medication (Not Xanax or Valium) that I have been on for several years and was informed that Chronic Pain Clinics should not be prescribing diazepams and associated anti-anxiety medications and was advised to see a psychiatrist. The hospital promptly put me back on an anti-anxiety medication and informed me that chronic anxiety is usually managed by "General Practice" physicians, and alluded to the fact that my blood pressure spike may have been caused by withdrawal from my anxiety medication. The Primary care physician stated that for chronic pain patients, anxiety, sometimes caused by chronic pain, is handled by Pain Clinics and I have verified through phone calls that several do exactly that, so right now, I'm in a state of confusion.
This reminds me of the Old Abbot and Costello routine of "Who's on first base; No, "Who is on second base," etc., etc. For them it was a great comedy routine; however in reality, I don't see the humor in the situation. Is the DEA forcing all patients who suffer from chronic anxiety to receive their medications from psychiatrists, and if so, what will that cost the American taxpayers? Right now, there's a long waiting period for psychiatrists, as the toll of the economy and global events has been a boon to their specific medical specialty, and being on Medicare, many psychiatrists as well as Pain Clinics are underpaid and are not accepting new Medicare patients. I guess this will require another visit to the emergency room, and until I figure out "Who's on first base," I'm in danger of stroking-out in my sleep again. For me, that's enough to cause a great deal of anxiety, which is now untreated, and I face the same risks I did two months ago.
I do support the Federal Drug Administration in their efforts to stop those who abuse our medical system and sell these powerful drugs on the streets, and I agree that "Pill Mills" should be shut down for the health and welfare of the general public; however, as you do fight to control drug abuse and those who endanger our children, I would request that you change your methods and find a logical way to handle this issue rather than using the "shotgun approach" that is harming people from all walks of life, and especially the elderly, whose systems are unable to handle the strain of constantly being referred from doctor to docto, all the while receiving the same run-a-round that I have experienced. I have verified through independent sources that this is adversely affecting other people as well; if you want the majority of Americans to support your policies, then I'd suggest that you find one that doesn't harm innocent people.
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