Pain Management

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Pain Management

Post by Shadow » Fri Sep 21, 2018 8:42 pm

Physicians are often fearful and wary of chronic pain patients and they cannot help but wonder which one will get him in trouble. The physician who simply refuses to use opioids for anything but acute pain, and then only for brief periods, is not going to help you, even though the AMA ethical standards require member physicians to provide patients with “adequate pain control, respect for patient autonomy, and good communication.1” However, he should be willing to refer you to someone who will provide effective pain care. In Florida, California and a few other states, physicians are legally required either to treat pain or refer. In other states, the obligation is usually defined in the medical board regulations. Certain specialty boards have adopted standards or guidelines on the use of opioids to treat chronic pain.

If you would like to provide your physician with state laws and guidelines regarding opioid treatment, they are available online at guidelines regarding opioid treatment

Prescribes who use opioids for pain management must feel secure about treating you and your pain and must overcome his comfort level limitation on dosage. Therefore, put aside your anger and frustration to present yourself as effectively as possible. Let the physician know that you are responsible and willing to cooperate to protect you both. Bring all the records you have to the first visit and let him know if opioids have helped you in the past. Be aware, however, that physicians are conditioned to see this as demanding a particular opioid; be clear that you are only informing.

Good physicians will have some practice management tools in place, so don’t take it personally if you are asked to sign a pain “contract” and to submit to blood or urine monitoring. Contracts are actually a form of detailed and interactive informed consent. Good physicians will regard some contract violations as reason to evaluate and discuss what certain actions mean and will understand that actions that look like abuse can also be clear signals of under-treated pain, dysfunctional living arrangements, or manifestations of depression or anxiety.

Let the physician know if you need to “violate” one of the contract rules-such as requesting early refills so that you can go out of town or increase the dose in a time of particularly serious pain. However, you still have pain, call the physician before you increase the dose and ask for an appointment to talk about titration. If you can’t afford an interim visit, try to speak with him by telephone to explain how you are feeling, or have a friend or relative call him to express concerns.

Finally, do not be shocked or offended if he asks you to have a psychiatric consultation. This need not mean that he thinks your pain is “all in your head”. Depression and anxiety are almost synonymous with chronic pain, as is social isolation. Many studies show that a psychological evaluation and even ongoing psychological care can substantially improve pain management, as can other modalities, such as neurocognitive feedback. And, of course, it gives your physician some “cover” to have another professional involved. If money is an issue, let him know.

You and Your Physician: What are Your Rights?

Reality dictates that some physicians, even in the face of clear pain, will not be willing to prescribe opioids. More commonly, they are willing to prescribe low doses but have a personal comfort level limit that may or may not be adequate for you. Moreover, if you push him to titrate doses above that comfort level, he may decide that you are a drug seeker. This serious ethical problem-the physician putting his perceived personal safety before his patient-is a deplorable situation that can lead to abandonment.

A physician can abandon a patient whom he views as drug seeking or who has in some way “violated” the informed consent agreement. Although state laws and medical ethical rules do not allow abrupt termination of a physician-patient relationship, a prescriber does not have to keep you in his practice. If you are stable and able to find another physician, he can terminate you if he provides a brief written explanation of his reasons. An oral message is insufficient. The physician must also agree to continue your care for at least 30 days and he should also provide a referral.

However, if you are at a critical or important point in your treatment, abandonment by notice and 30-day care is not permissible under common law. This restriction should apply to a patient taking opioids for pain because the consequences of withdrawal for a person who has a chronic illness could be significant.

Additionally an un-medicated patient may face a return of the pain that had been mediated by the opioids; he will almost certainly experience anxiety and distress. In short, a period without continuity of care could constitute a medical emergency. It seems logical that refusal to treat a patient until the patient has obtained another physician (or perhaps until it becomes clear that the patient is not making a serious effort to transfer care) should constitute abandonment. ... -hospital/