When controversial Montana physician Mark Ibsen said he had enough and decided to leave his practice in Helena, Montana, it set off an issue in Montana’s capital city that is being raised around the country.
What happens to the pain patients he treats? It is a question being asked in communities around the nation.
Ibsen had been targeted by the Montana Board of Medical Examiners for overprescribing narcotic pain medication, but interestingly won the latest chapter in that dispute last June. Ibsen contended that he was simply treating more patients with pain medications because other doctors had stopped seeing the patients because of fear of scrutiny by federal and state officials.
He called those patients “narcotic refugees” in a blog he wrote for the National Pain Report.
His decision to step aside had economic and emotional causes, he said. The legal bills and what he saw as unrelenting legal and regulatory pressure had him come to the conclusion that he was done. Ibsen’s patients had trouble filling prescriptions at the big-chain pharmacies in Helena.
One of his most vocal supporters has been retired pharmacist Steve Ariens who has grown increasingly angry with what he sees as a civil rights issue–access to medication for chronic illness, particularly chronic pain. He wrote on this topic in late August for the National Pain Report. He comes about his passion quite normally; his wife suffers from chronic pain.
As news of Ibsen’s sudden decision to quit surfaced, Ariens sent the following to the National Pain Report which we have decided to publish.
So no other family has to deal with…
by Steve Ariens
How many times have we heard this phrase stated after the death of a loved one or group of one or more innocent people are killed or harmed?
It doesn’t matter if you are talking about a medication mistake where a two year old dies or where a four year old who had a cancerous kidney removed whose parents had trouble getting his pain medication filled.
It would seem that those who have lost a loved one to either drug overdoses or gun violence seem to become galvanized into groups against certain substances that their loved one died from and/or guns in general.
None of these groups seem to understand that they are dealing with people that have very serious mental health issues. Particularly, with those who have lost a loved one to a substance they use/abused or died from seem to be the most driven to prevent such a situation from happening again.
Are the people dealing with self-guilt that they could not “save” their loved one from the mental health illness of an addictive personality? Try as they may, the loved one’s self destructive death spiral they were in is irreversible. So they have to find something/someone to blame. It can’t be that their family’s gene pool has a “defective gene” that has shown up as mental illness.
On the other hand, when a chronic pain patient ends up dying of their own hand, because they have been denied adequate pain management by a prescriber or a pharmacist, You seldom – if ever – hear the same resolve from their loved ones to never letting it happen again…
Most likely, you will hear s/he is no longer in pain… s/he is at rest now, and the loved ones go on about their lives. Why is there not the same amount of anger about losing a loved one to a disease that there are treatments available? Just like there is for those with mental health?
Why is it allowed for their death certificate be stated as “drug related overdose”, knowing full and well that the loved one was basically “forced” to resolve their pain by ending their life?
There is increased discussion among healthcare professionals and health insurers about pts being more compliant with their medication(s) to treat their chronic disease issues. However, for some reason, that discussion is focused primarily on high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and diabetes. With the exception of diabetic neuropathy, none of the disease they are focusing on has chronic pain associated with them. Also, none of them are subjective diseases (pain, anxiety, depression, ADD/ADHD, mental health)
The same disease states that are the common denominators behind a lot of our social troubles.
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