Records and Pain Management and Drug-Seeking Behavior, Oh My.
I don't even know what question I should be asking.
Someone at the Student Health Services made a final entry in my patient log four days after my last contact with them. Nothing but the date and "drug seeking behavior." Can they seriously do this?
So, let's back up a bit. Why did they do it? I used to go to one doctor at SHS, someone whom I trusted and admired, as if she were my PCP. For over a year, she prescribed vicodin or percocet for menstrual cramps (I can't take NSAIDs) as we looked for other solutions. Then, one day, wham, I fell down the stairs, went to see her... She wrote me a new prescription for percocet but for a MUCH higher quantity than usual. And, since I'm a drug addict, I rolled that piece of paper up and smoked it right there. No, seriously, I pointed the error out to her, but she didn't want to rewrite the prescription. She said to just fill it and it would save me having to come see her again soon. Shortly thereafter, the proverbial fecal matter hit a propeller-like device, and I am informed that she is no longer allowed to prescribe pain relief for menstrual cramps. Fine, I get it, she messed up. I deal. I find a gynecologist who doesn't believe in menstrual cramps but does believe in Nuvaring, so at least now I don't have to have as many periods as I had before. Fast-forward, next semester... I'm in excruciating pain and I don't know why. Fibromyalgia? Maybe. It's definitely not anywhere near my uterus. So I go to SHS and see "my" doctor. She informs me that she isn't allowed to prescribe me any pain killers for anything and can't suggest anything else. Since this sounds like a case of a policy that can be appealed and not of a doctor making a decision, I follow the patient advocate's advice and appeal to the kindness and mercy of the SHS director's saint-like heart of purity and angel wings and kittens. The director tells me that it's my doctor's decision to make, not a matter of the doctor not being allowed to do it, and, since it sounds like someone doesn't know what's going on, she promises to talk to the doctor. The director is very sympathetic. She promises to call me back later that day or by the next morning at the latest. I never hear back from the director, but I receive a voice mail from the doctor reiterating that she CAN NOT prescribe pain killers because of SHS policy. I never actually get to speak to anyone and my questions about who made this decision and why are completely ignored. It's on this day that the "drug seeking behavior" entry is made.
But, seriously, guys? Don't I have some kind of a right to know who is making what decisions about my care and why? I'm pretty sure that's in the AMA's ethical guidelines, but, hey, no need to go that far, because my rights as a patient of SHS are specifically enumerated on their webpage, and, whaddya know, I DO have some kind of right to that information. So how do I get it? How can they get away with denying it to me? If someone is going to put a note in my file specifically to imply that I am a drug addict, shouldn't someone discuss with me the fact that they think I have a substance abuse problem so that I could get treatment? And if they don't want to tell me, is there any valid explanation beyond the SHS director being malicious and a little ticked off that I put her in the position of having to put what was best for her and for SHS over any concern about the patient?
I didn't find out about this until I picked up a copy of my records to take with me to a new doctor. My husband tried to keep me from seeing. At least it explained a lot about the way I'd been treated by the pain management specialist I saw in the interim (that's a-whole-nother post that I don't think I can write without sobbing uncontrollably or killing someone; if you have a better suggestion for an outlet for shame, frustration, and betrayal, do let me know) but just what in the heck am I supposed to do now?
I've had plenty of pretty pictures taken of all of the parts of me that are working just like they should be and no good explanation for why I hurt so much that I can't function--I cannot physically perform my job as a teacher. I have a great psychiatrist who is working with my PCP, and I saw a great rheumatologist, but no one has answers, and I've gone through every single thing anyone has told me to try. Lyrica, Cymbalta, Neurontin, Welbutrin, Flexeril... Chiropractic, acupuncture, Reiki meditation, massage therapy... Steroid dose packs relieve some of the pain temporarily, but you can't take those for long and I'm not supposed to take them at all. Elevil at 20 mg has helped a bit. They're talking about maybe trying Tramadol next, and that's only because my psychiatrist talked to my PCP. If that's not enough or it doesn't work--and, please, forgive me for saying the naughty words--what else is there that isn't an opioid?
I'm so sick of rateyourpainonascaleofonetotenwithtenbeingtheworst...
so let's play a new game.
On a scale of one to ten, how screwed am I?
Seriously, the only comprehension I can derive from this farce involves nasty implications about doctors who care more about their own careers than they do about patients. I have no history of substance abuse and I've never taken drugs in any way other than how my doctor told me to. But it seems like I just get the same run-around from everyone:
"You're only 28. You don't want to be an addict, do you? If you were older, it would be okay to be an addict, because you might die. [Clearly, I'm paraphrasing this line, because it took several pointed questions and fragmented responses to get this out of this particular doctor.] Your pain will never go away, so what good would treating it do? The medicine might stop working, and then you'd be right back where you started five or ten years from now."
I don't even want opioids. I just want the pain to go away. But when the doctors start saying that it's either opioids or nothing... they usually finish by saying that it's gonna be nothing. There was a question somewhere in that.
I must say with everything you have been through...you have quit a sense of humor! Good for you!
I am soo sorry you have been through so much. You do have a right to a copy of anything in your chart. They have to give you a form called a "Medical Release". If you are uncertain how to fill it out...they are responsible to show you how. You also have a right to make notes in your own chart and dispute any chart note taken. You have to sign and date anything that you write, and you can't cover up or cross out anything. If you make a mistake...you can write a single line through and sign and date. You have a legal right to make a comment on the chart note that accuses you of having drug problem.
Don't forget they are working for you...not the latter! You can fire your doctor, you have that right! This is YOUR body, YOUR pain, YOUR life and YOUR money. If your doctor is not willing to listen and believe in YOU the patient...then move on and find someone who will. Doctors are being paid for the SERVICE of finding out what is wrong and helping you get better.
As far as the pain meds...there are as you already know tons of different kinds of pains meds out there. Ultram is a good one to try and less offensive to your stomach then some of the others. You also mentioned reki and meditation...awesome forms of bio feedback along with prana healing. From what you said...I wasn't sure if you are having menstrual pain or back pain or both. Do you have an exercise regiment you do with stretching for strengthening the back? Sometimes swimming is great for relieving pressure while strengthening also.
Good luck in getting some answers and finding some relief!
I'm so sorry to hear that someone has placed this label on you. You certainly do not deserve this at all. The ones who label people with chronic pain as drug seekers are those who have never been in chronic pain. People who live every day with pain, pain, pain, and more pain merely want some relief just so they can try to function at all in their everyday lives. They want to be able to get out of the bed of the morning, try to function as normally as possible through the day, be able to sleep at night instead of being up and down all night from the pain. All the person suffering with Chronic pain wants is what the ones labeling them take for granted. I agree with bluebird that you have the right to any info in your chart. Now that the label is there unfortunately it is going to be almost impossible to get it removed, but that is only one person's opinion in a group of so many.
Please try to look for a different doctor who has experience with treating pain. Most cities have several Pain Management Specialists and that is their sole job to treat people for pain. I wish you the best of luck. Please keep us posted on how you are doing. Good Luck and God Bless Brenda
Sounds familiar- very familar. I had extreme migraine headache which started with me passing out at work. They delivered me to the hospital twice in a week and the head of the ER called me a "frequent flyer". I wasn't even really conscious but, felt ashamed. After the third visit they told me to get a doctor and I did. come to find out the doc I went to was one of the doctor's that saw me in the ER. He was new and one of the good guys. To make a five year search for a diagnosis short, no one could figure out what was the matter with me. I had aphasia ( lost my speach) and other serious symptoms. My friend took me to the hospital the first time, I couldn't talk and they diagnosed me with drug overdose even though I had no drugs present and the meds the give to overdoses didn't work. This went on til my doctor showed up and "corrected" the situation. Finally, my doctor was fed up with the medical community in my area and left for FLA. His last words to me were to stay away from that hospital as it kiled people. The next "doctor" I had was fresh into practice and I had the experience of being her first patience. She read all the hospital notes and said I was an addict. Period. I told her where to go and moved my care to the next biggest town. My previous doctor took it upon herself to call this doctor, a very respected rheumatologist, and tell him that there was nothing the matter with me. That I was trying to pull something over on him. He did not take this well and told her that he was a specalist and how dare her tell him his job. He told her that I had osteoarthitis and all she had to do was to take an X-ray. He was the one to diagnosis my Migraines after five years and ten doctors as well. Anywhere this other doctor got angry and called every hospital, pharmacy and God knows who else and told them to be on the look out for me. I was not informed of her doing this other than my rhematoligist, until I requested all my records and doctors started to treat my disrespectful when I went to have my Migraine controled at a local (different) hospital over eight years later. Since that time I saw that new doctor I have had three surgeries, one where my c-4 verterae was removed as replaced. I tried to find that woman "doctor" but apparently, she was not an assest to the practice she worked for since they would not tell me where she went and all my records etc were gone. This has become something that bothers me alot lately even though my pain is treated and I have a hospital that will treat my H?A's without questions. I was abused and mistreated by the medical profession and I am angry. It has been a long time but, I have finally decided to do something about it. 'They have made me ashamed and ruined my reputation all over incorrect information. 'They were not good enough doctors to correctly diagnose me so they called me everything from emotionally disturbed, "it's a woman thing, go back to work and keep yourself busy" to drug seeker etc.. Do not let this happen to you. Get all your records-you may find that people who do not want you to have them will charge you for each page. If you have been wronged get a lawyer or write to the Licensing board. I lost a lot of my self esteem and felt guilty for being sick which stopped me from going to the doctor's when I should have. It also prevented me from taking pain meds for along time until another Doctor from heaven listen and read and helped me to understand that I needed them. Do what you have to do for yourself. Me? I'm writing a book about the medical profession and chronic pain and if I can get away with it, I'll name names. I also sent the operation report and any diagnosis information to all hospitals, pharmicies and doctors that had anything to with making a really bad experience a horrible nightmare. Good luck.
Welcome and Bless your heart Hun it sounds like you too got slammed by the hospital and another incompetent doctor, as well. I'm so sorry this happened to you. I don't blame you for looking for her, I'd be searching for her too and be tempted to kick butt when I found her.
You probably have but I'll ask this anyway, have you tried to find her name online, or checked with the Medical Licensing Board in your State? If she was as incompetent as you say she may not be practicing anymore. They may have pulled her licenses. YEAH LOL What she did to you was not only belittling and cruel it was illegal because she had no right calling and giving your information to anyone without your permission. I don't know if you can name names in your book or not without getting sued for slander, but if you find out that answer Please let me know. Again Welcome to the Couch and God Bless Brenda
I DON'T LIKE TO SAY THIS BUT I WILL. SOME DOCTORS WILL GIVE YOU THE MEDS FOR YOUR PAIN, BUT ONCE YOU QUESTION ANYTHING THAT THEY DO, OR IF THEY THINK YOU JUST MUGHT WANT A SECOND OPIONION , THEY DO NOT WANT YOU AS A PATIENT ANYMORE REGARDLESS IF THEY MADE US ADDICTED TO THE PAIN MEDS OR WHAT YOUR PROBLEWM IS. I NEVER NEW HOW MUCH LIES AND COVER-UP THE DOCTORS DO UNTIL I GOT MY OWN MEDICAL RECORDS TO GO TO ANOTHER DOCTOR. THEY EVEN TRIED TP COVER-UP WHEN THEY CUT MY INTESTINES DURING SUGERY, I WANDERED WHAT ABOUT THE NEW SCAR I HAD JUST BELOW MY BELLY BUTTON THAT THEY SAID WAS FROM SOMETHING RELATED TO THE SURGREY THAT WAS SCEDULED. IF YOU HAVE ACCESS TO GET YOUR RECORDS I SAY DO SO, SO YOU CAN SEE IF EVERYTHING IS RIGHT. MANY OF UOU WILL BE SURPRISED.
Thank you Sisi. Yes, you are correct there are some out there like that and the numbers may be more than we all even realize. I'm sure the attempted cover up on your intestines was the doc trying to prevent getting his butt sued. Of course, it was a terrible thing for him to do, but not surprising that he done it. The thing is had you not found out you would have never known. You could have had major issues associated with that early on or later in life. I'm glad you found out about the mistake, and hope you did something legally about the attempted cover up and error. A med error is what eventually killed my mom and it was not noticed by the doc, he hadn't a clue what he had done. he was really paying attention to what he was doing wasn't he? Had the family not been persistent because of continued symptoms, we would have never found out.
I agree with you Sisi that it never hurts to check your charts from time to time because there might be things there you weren't aware of. Have A Wonderful Day and God Bless Brenda
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