Dear concerned fellow person living with chronic pain,
It is rewarding to write books, articles and blogs to help others manage chronic pain and illness. But coping strategies alone are often not enough. Opioids allow many patients the ability to participate in things they otherwise couldn’t. I advocate for moving complimentary therapies into mainstream but these days, the bulk of my time is donated to the crisis created by limited patient access, if any, to their opioids.
Because of the volume of requests for help and the need to meet the demands for my own care, I investigated information to help you with your personal situation.
It’s important to understand what is happening. Physicians are caught in the middle. The DEA crackdown on prescribing opioids has made them fearful of losing their license to practice medicine if they do prescribe them for their patients. On the other hand, if they don’t treat their patient’s pain and patient harm results, they are held liable for that too. When a patient is fired, the physician has an ethical obligation to ensure a patient’s care is uninterrupted. If a patient is harmed because they are abandoned, there may be grounds for a lawsuit. The very people who impose their edicts on physicians--the DEA, the CDC, or other government agencies, such as the Center for Medicare and Medicaid--have no liability for their actions. Many times the physician is unjustly held accountable. Therein the swamp water lies.
We have the ability to hold the right people accountable by providing factual evidence. Evidence includes things, such as:
*If you are forced to sign a contract, read it. A contract is between TWO people and may be litigated if either party fails to uphold their part of the contract. The physician’s responsibilities toward your care should also be provided.
The laws to protect both the physician and patient are very gray in today’s stormy climate.
*As a patient, you also have a duty. If you are unreasonably demanding, non-compliant (i.e. abusing, diverting, or misusing opioids), or threatening to the physician or staff, you are not protected.
If you have been abandoned and have evidence of harm resulting from changes in your pain care, you have recourse thanks to required reporting in Senate Bill S.483, Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016, signed into law April 2016.
If you have sufficient evidence, please submit it to the attorney general for your state, which you can find at NAAG | Who's My AG? If anyone is providing evidence on someone else’s behalf make that disclosure and provide contact information.
Remember, if it wasn't documented, in didn't happen. Gather your arsenal and become empowered. Record what you can, when you can. The attorney general needs concrete evidence to move forward. Make sure they know you know they are required to report your case as part of S.483. There are links to additional contacts at the bottom of the Sample Advocacy Letter. I suggest sending a copy of your letter to your attorney to those you feel are appropriate. Be sure to mention the pain care laws for your state. You can find your state’s pain care laws at the American Academy of Pain Management or by typing “your state’s name state law on pain care” in your browser search engine and select from the results.
Because every case is different, each of us must demand our rights to be treated with dignity and respect. There is opportunity in adversity. Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor will our cries for help be solved quickly, but we must have hope. Despite what many think, those in chronic pain are tough. We overcome hurdles on a regular basis.
I recommend joining an advocacy group to help you stay abreast of recent newsworthy information and/or fight for our rights in Washington.
US Pain Foundation
The National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association
See The PAINS Project for links to their steering committee members for additional information.
I wish you well in your pursuit to maintain a forward life coping with and managing chronic pain.
In healing and hope, Celeste
*This information is not to be substituted for legal advice from a qualified attorney.
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Guidelines for Pain Warriors