Whitney – A Teachable Moment

I will make no judgement on the recent passing of Whitney Houston, except that she had and incredible talent. But I will take this opportunity to talk about something dear to me . . . my patients.

I had a call last week from a local pharmacist when one of my patients arrived with a prescription I had written for a narcotic.  The pharmacist pointed out that she had received five different narcotic prescriptions from five different providers during the previous two weeks. He also  made the suggestion that I’m naive.

I’m not naive. I’ve been at this for thirty years and I know all the games that patients can play.  I also know how decent people, through their pain, get caught up in addiction. The addiction causes them to be manipulative and deceitful . . . something that would normally be out of character for them.

What the pharmacist saw as my naivety is really, in my opinion, my view of my patients. I never start with a patient expecting them to be a “drug seeker.”  I always start with trust and respect. They have to work hard to loose that. But at the same time, out of my concern for patients, I am careful. I do check the state narcotic data bank on most of the patients for which I prescribe controlled substances.

In  my career, I have seen decent people, in pain, who got caught up in addiction and, to my great grief, died from over-doses at a young age. It is a serious concern.

I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve had two patients recently I had to confront about their addictions. Both were in serous denial. But I do this out of concern for their lives, and for their families, who would be devastated if they were to loose them.