Proposed Opioid Regulations Are A Terrible Idea

Here’s a new wrinkle in the misguided war on drugs. Doctors and dentists have been looking over their shoulders a while now with nothing less than their licenses on the line. Now, in an effort to curb the abuse of prescription painkillers, state regulators want to prohibit doctors and other healthcare practitioners from prescribing opioids to family members. Testimony regarding this futile and unfair plan was heard yesterday at a public hearing at the Department of Health. (ProJo 12.15.14)

Among the more idiotic provisions;

The proposed regulations would also require patients treated for chronic pain with opioids to sign treatment agreements with their prescribers about how they’ll use the medication.

Because a drug addict would never violate . . . an agreement. (Representatives from several health-care associations, as well as Steve Brown of the RI ACLU, testified against the new regulations. The only supporting testimony cited in the ProJo article was anecdotal and not remotely on point.)

These intrusive regulations would treat all doctors and dentists as potential drug pushers and do nothing to curb drug abuse. Blameless healthcare professionals will be burdened with more meaningless paperwork and force doctors and dentists to “fire” patients to whom they happen to be related.

Hitting the nail on the head was Steven R. DeToy, a spokesman for the Rhode Island Medical Society who testified,

. . . that health officials’ focus on regulations is misplaced. “The problem we have in the state is not one about the failure of the regulatory or law enforcement agencies,” DeToy said, “but the failure of our departments’ treatment facilities to be fully funded.”


1 thought on “Proposed Opioid Regulations Are A Terrible Idea”

  1. While I completely agree that MDs and mid-level professionals are facing undue scrutiny when they prescribe stronger analgesics, the AMAs guidelines pretty clearly spell out the egregious flaws in treating one’s own family members:
    “Opinion 8.19 – Self-Treatment or Treatment of Immediate Family Members

    Physicians generally should not treat themselves or members of their immediate families. Professional objectivity may be compromised when an immediate family member or the physician is the patient; the physician’s personal feelings may unduly influence his or her professional medical judgment, thereby interfering with the care being delivered. Physicians may fail to probe sensitive areas when taking the medical history or may fail to perform intimate parts of the physical examination. Similarly, patients may feel uncomfortable disclosing sensitive information or undergoing an intimate examination when the physician is an immediate family member. This discomfort is particularly the case when the patient is a minor child, and sensitive or intimate care should especially be avoided for such patients. When treating themselves or immediate family members, physicians may be inclined to treat problems that are beyond their expertise or training. If tensions develop in a physician’s professional relationship with a family member, perhaps as a result of a negative medical outcome, such difficulties may be carried over into the family member’s personal relationship with the physician.

    Concerns regarding patient autonomy and informed consent are also relevant when physicians attempt to treat members of their immediate family. Family members may be reluctant to state their preference for another physician or decline a recommendation for fear of offending the physician. In particular, minor children will generally not feel free to refuse care from their parents. Likewise, physicians may feel obligated to provide care to immediate family members even if they feel uncomfortable providing care.”

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