Friday, February 19, 2016

Another Task Force

Is it a Task Force We Need?

gentleman called me one afternoon. He was angry that his doctor would not fill his prescription for pain killers.  He didn’t trust his doctor anymore and wondered if his doctor of 15 years was mad at him because he was getting a second opinion.  I asked if his second opinion was to get medication and he said “yes”.  He swore to me that he is not addicted.  I listened carefully, let him tell his story and then asked him “how many people who are addicted, do you think are going to say they are addicted?”  He agreed.

An elderly gentleman told me that when he was on vacation, he ran out of pain pills and thought he was going through withdrawal.  He described a terrible experience.  When I spent some time researching what steps he might take and got back to him with some places that might assist, he said he didn’t want to get off his medication.  They are doing for him what they are supposed to – keeping him from feeling pain.

Nassau and Suffolk Counties have developed a heroin Task Force because of the epidemic of heroin overdoses on Long Island.  They are charged with investigating every heroin overdose on the Island in hopes of tracking the drugs to its source.

Now who wants to be the next overdose that will be “investigated”? Who wants to volunteer their child?  Why isn’t the source being investigated before the prescription – the very first prescription is filled, the public has to take medication safety seriously.

A recent Newsday article explains that the epidemic of heroin overdoses started with opiates such as OxyContin.  In 2012 it is said that over 2 million people were addicted.  A recent AARP article tells us that 46 Americans overdose on pain killers each day!

When I was sitting at the bedside of a patient leaving the hospital, the nurse called in her prescription ahead of time so it would be ready.  No warning, no instructions to be aware of addiction or dependency.  I was given a bottle of pills after my surgery.  No one asked who will be helping you with this prescription?  Who will be your DMM / Designated Medication Manager?

So the answer is to continue writing the prescriptions. Allowing patients to become dependent and then accuse them of “doctor shopping” to get their medications.  Punish doctors who want to give them medication or arrest people for selling pills to feed their heroin habit.  And this is where money will be spent?  On yet another task force?

Listen to this one young man, Steve Dodge, as he tells the reporter where he got started, on pain killers in the ninth grade Video.  It doesn't seem like anyone is listening to him!

Imagine if the task force focused on Before the Prescription is written?  Imagine if every patient was asked who will be your DMM and help you?  They will see if you are on your medications too long?  They will see if you are taking them correctly?  They can read that small print that the patient can’t see and bring the long list of medications, as well as pain killers to the pharmacist for review or to the doctor.

Imagine if we were able to control the problem before it became a problem and not after the next person dies?  But maybe that’s not where the money is?  I have been ignored by the Nassau County Health Commissioner when I went to see him about this.  I guess they want to put the money into another “task force”.

Maybe a discussion about medication safety on Long Island will open up some awareness BEFORE THE PRESCRIPTION IS WRITTEN

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