Laws’ Focus On Pain Relief Spurs Medical Enterprise

By: Thomas A. Curry

Pain. Horrible, continuous, chronic pain.

It can be so debilitating that some people can’t function. So bad that they buy illegal drugs for relief — or wish to die just so they won’t hurt anymore.

Pain also is something many doctors hesitate to treat because they’re afraid patients will get addicted to pain medicine – and then the state will yank their medical licenses for “overprescribing.”

But now physicians have no choice in the matter, thanks to recent federal and state laws mandating doctors and hospitals treat pain. And industry experts expect the new laws to result in a rush by some health care professionals to get into the emerging field of pain management.

“Pain management is de rigueur — the hot button of this year,” says Dr. Raymon Priewe, president and medical director of the new 2,000-square-foot Pain Institute of Florida in Ocoee. “The new laws are giving pain management a legitimacy and authority it never had before.”

chronic-pain

Hospitals Treat Health Problems but Not Pain

Traditionally, hospitals and doctors treat health problems, but not pain.

However, new laws now require hospitals and doctors to screen patients for chronic pain, and then treat them or refer them to a pain management specialist.

“It will be the up-and-coming thing,” says Priewe. “Doctors will get more education, and pain that’s easily managed will get managed now.”

In fact, the state Board of Medicine fully supports doctors who prescribe medications to treat pain — even if it sometimes results in drug addiction.

“There is a time when that’s OK because the pain has to be managed,” says Becky Cherney, a member of the Board of Medicine. “Sometimes people in horrible accidents need to get enough pain relief just to survive. If they survive, you can help them become unaddicted later.”

In addition, she says there are few cases of doctors disciplined for overprescribing drugs. Those who have run into trouble with the Board of Medicine typically had a personal relationship with the patient and lacked a diagnosis in the patient’s file to support the prescriptions.

“If doctors keep good documentation and the medical condition is legitimate, then they are protected,” Priewe says.

Indeed, doctors who prescribe within industry standards have nothing to fear.

After all, says Cherney, “With morphine, even patients who have the highest level of pain can be relieved within the proper dosage of the medicine.”

chronic-pain-2

Drugs aren’t Always the Answer

That’s not to say that drugs are always the answer.

“Some problems, such as a painful disorder of the bladder, are very difficult to manage with medications says Priewe, an anesthesiologist.

Which may be part of the reason there are so many new ways being developed — beyond drugs — to deal with pain.

For example, one new procedure, intradiscal thermal therapy, may be done in place of major surgery for a herniated disc, says Priewe. In this procedure, a wire is inserted in the spine and then heated to destroy nerve fibers in the disc.

Another procedure called ep id uroscopy can combine medication with technology. It involves inserting a flexible fiber-optic telescope in the epidural space to look for painful scars near nerve roots. That allows doctors to treat pain with medication or by breaking up the scar tissue.

However, there are times when patients actually do need to feel pain. For example, the Board of Medicine recently heard a case in which a child dove into a swimming pool and split his head open. He was given pain medicine at the hospital before getting stitches, and then sent home. But he got the pain medicine so early that he didn’t complain of any other pain — and it turned out that his neck had been broken.

“Doctors want to make sure they don’t mask other pain in the body,” says Cherney. “Pain management requires a lot of communication. It’s a really complex specialty, but there are a lot of good solutions.”

And that’s why more pain management specialists would be welcome here.

“Pain is a pain,” says Cherney. “Pain grants no exceptions. It doesn’t care if you ‘re young or old, black or white.

“When you have prolonged periods of pain, you begin to wonder if you’re ever going to feel good again — and then you think you’re not.”

MOST PAINFUL CONDITIONS

* Migraines

* Kidney stones

* Cancer

* Shingles

* Ruptured disc

See more:

It’s Two Steps Forward, One Step Back In Retailer, Vendor Dance

Accenting Packaging, P-o-p Displays

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top