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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Nursing Home Residents Who Need Pain Drugs

The war on drugs has totally disrupted the health care system in America. Patients and seniors in long-term-care facilities are having trouble getting pain medication; serious delays are causing needless suffering. A number of staff members working in nursing homes steal the patients pain medication to sell or use; the DEA in response now requires doctor's signatures along with a sleuth of other approvals when pain medication is ordered. The Washington Post reports that lawmakers have become concerned and, "wrote to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. this month, urging that the Obama administration issue new directives to the DEA and support a possible legislative fix for the problem, which has bothered nursing home administrators and geriatric experts for years". There doesn't seem to be an easy solution to this problem; on the one hand there are not enough doctors to be around every nursing home at all times, on the other a serious number of prescription pain medications such as: morphine, Oxycontin, Percocet, and Vicodin are being stolen. How to secure the distribution of opiates and provide nursing home residents who need pain drugs in a timely matter is the question?

Pharmacies that provide pain medication to nurses without all the approvals in order face tens of thousands of dollars in fines. "The system is broken. It isn't working, and patients are suffering," said Claudia Schlosberg, director of policy and advocacy for the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists. "While we need to ensure there are proper controls on the medications, the overall law enforcement concern has to be compatible with meeting patients' needs, and right now it's not", according to the Washington Post. Scholsberg has a good point, patients' rights need to prevail over all else, there obviously needs to be some restrictions but they can't get in the way of a patients' well being. Nobody would want their loved ones to suffer while in the care of someone else, it just is not acceptable.

It does not seem right that the war on pain has to suffer from the war on drugs; I guess that is war though, they are usually not fair. Nurses and doctors cannot effectively manage their patients' pain as a result of the Drug Enforcement Agencies strict policies. Hopefully, a compromise can be found that will stop all the delays and still monitor the drugs in order to keep them off the streets.

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