Overly cautious physicians causing unnecessary pain and suffering

May 3, 2022

I’m writing as a collaterally damaged casualty of the opioid crisis. I suffer from chronic sciatica pain that remains unresolved despite two spine operations and other treatment modalities too numerous to mention. Since my pain prevents me from walking more than a few steps or standing for more than five minutes, my orthopaedic doctor recommended I obtain a prescription for narcotic pain medication. Note the words “recommended” and “obtain.” Normally, the physician would simply write a prescription and send it over to the patient’s pharmacy. However, due to the increased scrutiny and litigiousness resulting from the Oxycontin tragedy, most physicians in our area have become overly risk-averse. Rather than write a prescription themselves, with the required, periodic urine screenings to catch drug abusers, they refer their patients to a very small number of providers, usually nurse practitioners, willing to handle all the attendant paperwork and monitoring.

The result, as I and many other Delaware sufferers of acute pain have discovered, is a hopelessly clogged an inefficient system that treats everyone as a potential opioid abuser. In my case, it has taken over one month from the physician agreeing to send a referral to the only practice in our area that will write a prescription to the point at which I was finally invited to fill out a multi-page packet of medical information and liability waivers to establish my suitability to receive a prescription. I am now the proud owner of an appointment that is still two weeks in the future. Ironically, the process for obtaining a medical marijuana card takes about 10 days.

As so often happens in our great country, the law of unintended consequences is causing the healthcare system to inflict completely unnecessary pain and suffering.

Nicholas Simmonds
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