Experiences of a healthcare defense attorney
I have defended physicians, pharmacists, and prescribing nurses from prescription drug charges by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) long enough that I well remember the following events:
- the short-lived FAQ’s briefly posted to the DEA’s website (the FAQs were removed from the DEA’s website because pain advocates and defense lawyers cited the favorable FAQ’s in the courtroom);
- the “Quick Reference Card,” (the Quick Reference Card was a highly formatted legal crib sheet used by prosecuting attorneys in the courtroom, but it was discontinued due to its misstatements of the law of drug diversion);
- the argument that opioid dosing is to be determined “titrating to full function” (finding the optimal dose to improve daily functioning – the best analgesia with the fewest side effects; but was this ever the standard?); and
- the day in 2007 that Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty, and paid a $630 million settlement, against federal charges that it misled healthcare providers about the risks of OxyContin.
Overtime, I have accumulated the type of experience that causes me to offer cautious advice to prescribing physicians treating chronic pain with opioids. Cautious advice will sometimes disappoint a prescribing physician, and will certainly disappoint the physician’s patient seeking more aggressive treatment. I am, however, a healthcare defense attorney, and my experience includes keeping physicians out of prison, and winning their release from prison once they are there. In other words, my goal is to keep you out of trouble and cautious advice furthers that goal.
The pendulum has swung: Treat chronic pain cautiously
It is based on my experience that I can assure prescribing physicians and nurses that the treatment of chronic pain with opioids exposes you to scrutiny by the Oregon Medical Board, the Oregon State Board of Nursing, and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Based upon two recent experiences, I also detect that the pendulum has swung, and the emerging practice standards and protocols governing the treatment of chronic pain with opioids are more detailed than ever.
These Oregon Medical Board and OHSU publications may serve you well
I am a healthcare defense attorney, not a healthcare provider, so my opinion is informed by others, and at this point my opinion on this subject is not fully informed. Nonetheless, if you are a prescribing physician or nurse treating chronic pain with opioids, and you come under scrutiny by the Oregon Medical Board, the Oregon State Board of Nursing, and/or the Drug Enforcement Administration, you may be well served if you have followed these practice guidelines made available by the Oregon Medical Board and Oregon Health & Science University:
- Oregon Medical Board: Oregon Opioid Prescribing Guidelines: Recommendations for the Safe Use of Opioid Medications, which may be found at https://public.health.oregon.gov/PreventionWellness/SubstanceUse/Opioids/Documents/taskforce/oregon-opioid-prescribing-guidelines.pdf; and
- Oregon Health & Science University: Guideline for Safe Chronic Opioid Therapy Prescribing For Patients with Chronic Non-cancer Pain, which may found at http://www.ohsu.edu/gim/epiclinks/opioidresources/OHSU_Opioid%20Guideline_1%2014.pdf.