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Pinehurst hospital puts its foot down on narcotic abusers

Posted October 16, 2013

— Many people addicted to narcotic pain medication have learned how to trick the health care system in order to get more drugs. 

According to a 2008 study by the International Narcotics Control Board, this is one of the reasons why the United States consumes 99 percent of the world’s hydrocodone and 83 percent of its oxycodone.

Every 19 minutes, one person in the U.S. dies from a prescription drug overdose, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“One hospital says they will no longer feed that habit,” WRAL’s Dr. Allen Mask said.

Emergency physician Dr. James Lewis, of First Health Moore Regional, wants to continue to help patients suffering from acute pain. However, he knows many patients abuse the system by visiting multiple doctors and emergency departments to get large amounts of narcotic pain relievers.

“Like patients coming in having car accidents,” Lewis said. “[We] look at the medicines they are on and a lot of them were on a large number of narcotics,” he said. “This shouldn’t be going on,” he added.

To counter abuse of the system, a group of physicians, pharmacists and law enforcement officers in Moore County have committed to checking IDs and the state’s controlled substance database before prescribing narcotic pain relievers.

“Yeah, we’re not going to write for your long-standing narcotics [users] here anymore,” Lewis said. “We are going to give you other options for care. We want to try to help you and make our overall community a much safer place,” he said.

First Health doctors will not refill stolen or lost prescriptions or prescribe missed methadone doses to patients, according to Mask.

However, these new policies do not mean that patients with legitimate severe pain won’t get compassionate care.

“They are trying to stop abuse of these highly addictive drugs and look for other pain management options when possible,” Mask said.

Patients with addictions to narcotics will be referred to psychiatrists and special programs that are intended to aid them in beating their addiction. Other patients may be referred to chiropractors or physical therapists to find more natural methods of pain relief, according to Mask.

“This is a national problem and many hospital systems are coming up with policies to deal with the problem,” Mask said.

13 Comments

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  • fuzzmom Oct 25, 4:12 p.m.

    I understand their point, but I once had oral surgery and was in a great deal of pain. Dr prescribed narcotic. A visiting relative stole them and had I not known a physician personally, I don't think my surgeron (who had only met me once) would have given me a new script. It was incredibly embarassing, especially when I knew it would make "me" look like the druggie. All I'm saying is that sometimes your prescriptions can be lost/stolen and you find yourself needing a new script when you're "not" a druggie.

  • lawncare5 Oct 24, 12:10 p.m.

    It is certainly good that efforts are being made to stop prescription drug abuse. However there are people who have a legitimate need/condition/injury who need these drugs and do not abuse them. Ouality of life is paramount. As a nurse I have seen many patients who are on pain meds for chronic conditions and it has made their life enjoyable again. Many are able to do things that they could not before. Tylenol, Motrin, and other otc drugs have their place but can have deadly side effects too. As long as the patient is monitored by their doctor on a regular basis, then let them be so that they can live a higher quality of life.

  • cushioncritter Oct 22, 7:39 p.m.

    I found some old prescriptions from 2002-2003 for Oxycodone -- never asked for it, just got it. Also found a prescription for 2 500mg Aspirin, 4 times per day. Now doctors don't like more than 80mg per day. Just 2 years ago, a Duke Primary doctor informed me Hydrocodone was much safer than Oxycontin, but I still declined it. The point is, the article makes it sound like patients really (initially, before addiction) want this junk that will ruin their health and shorten their life, but the original problem is the uncaring doctors who prescribed it. I have a 2003 Walgreen's information handout accompanying an Oxycontin prescription entitled "You have a right to relief from chronic pain". This article is wrong to blame patients for what doctors and pharma did.

  • dontstopnow Oct 22, 10:42 a.m.

    About time someone did this! They need to look at a few folks that I know who draw disability checks, use script doctors to keep writing those prescriptions and then they sell them on the black market and take them as well so this is a very wide spread problem.

  • Minarchist Oct 21, 2:25 p.m.

    My doctor shows me what prescriptions Ive been given on his hand held tablet while Im seeing him. How can a person go to multiple doctors without being caught?

  • jwerdman Oct 21, 8:18 a.m.

    "So in addition to denying some citizens the right to vote we are also going to deny them meds because they do not have proper ID but then Cape fear has been asking me for ID even if I go to visit a patient and yes the drug store also ask for ID before handing me my perscription"

    Really? Did they say they were denying people meds when they were in pain? Let's use some common sense. When do we start his in Wake County hospitals? "Perscription" drug abuse is a serious problem in our city and in our state. I'm glad to see someone doing something about it.

  • heelsgirl05 Oct 17, 5:33 p.m.

    I am a Nurse, and part of the problem is that in Medical and Nursing school we are taught that the patient's pain is what they say it is. They are asked to rate it on a scale of 0-10, with with anything above a 5 being considered moderate to severe pain. So, if a patient complains of his or her pain being an 8/10, they will more than likely get the maximum dose of their pain medication. Anybody addicted to opoids knows that, and I see that get abused a lot.

  • outhousecat Oct 17, 3:30 p.m.

    It starts with the doctors being unable or unwilling to say "no." I've had patients admitted with a diagnosis of opiate abuse, only to have some hospitalist come to their room and write for Oxycodone or Percocet just so they won't be bothered later. I firmly believe that some people need these meds, but the docs need to fully evaluate before prescribing them. What ever happened to Motrin and Tylenol for minor pain?

  • sunshine1040 Oct 17, 11:41 a.m.

    Gee my doctor had to send me to a pain clinic to get anything stronger then aspirn for pain more then twice a day and the drug store seems t be able to pull up the last time and where I had the perscription filled last

  • sunshine1040 Oct 17, 11:37 a.m.

    So in addition to denying some citizens the right to vote we are also going to deny them meds because they do not have proper ID but then Cape fear has been asking me for ID even if I go to visit a patient and yes the drug store also ask for ID before handing me my perscription

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