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The "War on Opioids" Needs to End

Posted by Emerald Coast Medical Association on Feb 8, 2019 6:00:00 AM

"With the first cut of the scalpel, excruciating pain exploded in my foot, and I was shocked speechless. I froze, paralyzed, terrified that any movement would jostle that knife digging into my flesh." Angelika Byczkowski, a patient suffering from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) has felt multiple surgeries through anesthetics.

The unforgettable recollection above was from a procedure that was done on her foot to remove a plantar wart. She also felt pain when she received stitches, which had anesthetics applied. Her doctor told her it was impossible that she was feeling pain, so she stuck to it and all the while, feeling extreme amounts of pain run through her body, she sat there quietly because she did not want to question authority. She thought she was going crazy. However, once she was 54 years old, she was finally diagnosed with EDS. EDS in many patients has brought them pain even after being numbed through local anesthetics. However, now that the medical world has gotten more advanced, we can help people with EDS with what is called by many a last resort: Opioids.

There is a four-step procedure to be taken before providers prescribe opioids:

Step 1: Initial Assessment

An Evaluation of the patient's pain, which should include; location of pain, duration of pain, characteristic of pain, what relieves the pain, and what time of day the pain occurs. There should also be a check on how the patient's past treatments and medication have worked out. A look at the patients personal and family history of alcohol or substance abuse should be taken into precaution.

Step 2: Informed Consent and Treatment Agreement

Before prescribing opioids for the treatment of chronic pain, a practitioner should obtain an informed consent agreement and a treatment agreement.

Step 3: Initiating and Monitoring Treatment

Once the decision has been made to initiate the opioid treatment, it should start as a therapeutic trial for a defined period (not to exceed 30 days). The patient should know that the trail will be carefully monitored to assess the benefits and harm that may occur and to evaluate the level of and change in pain.

Step 4: Red Flags and Aberrant/Diversionary Behavior

There is no exhaustive list of behaviors that might be considered red flags. However, it is a must for practitioners to recognize such behaviors and to document them in the medical record as well as what actions have been taking, including discontinuance of opioid treatment or discharging the patient.

With all of that in mind, opioids are there to help the patient try to function normally in day to day life. It should not be the medical professional's fault for the patient's actions. The war on opioids is not helping anyone in this situation because it can cause more problems for the patient by not giving them the drug sooner. Medical professionals are doing everything they can to help their patients; it's their job, and most often their passion. The war on opioids has been causing more problems than solutions in the medical field and has even led to medical professionals to be questioned.

At Emerald Coast Medical Association, we always have your back. Our Board of Governors routinely take their time to advocate for patients and physicians at the local, state, and federal level. Why wait when you can join today?

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Topics: Insider, Treatment, Opioids, Medical Law, Doctor-Patient Relationships

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