January 26, 1995 in Idaho

Pain Victims Make Case Before Board Patients Hope To Ease Fears About Prescribing Narcotics

By The Spokesman-Review
 

A half dozen chronic pain sufferers pleaded with the Idaho State Board of Medicine late Wednesday to ease apprehension among doctors who prescribe narcotics.

Jan Lambert, a Moscow resident, said she’s resorted to driving to Canada, where she purchases over-the-counter painkillers that can legally be brought back across the border.

“These trips are exhausting … they rob me of my good days,” said Lambert. She lamented her doctor’s refusal to prescribe narcotics that better treat her pain. “We don’t use these drugs to get a rush going through out minds. We use them to stop the pain.”

The board of medicine is considering new guidelines for prescribing drugs used to treat chronic pain. The guidelines, in part, are intended to calm fear among doctors.

That fear surfaced a year or so ago, when the board yanked the license of DeLamar Gibbons of the Silver Valley for prescribing narcotics to drug addicts. The action had a chilling effect in the medical community, so much so that some patients say their medicine has been cut off.

Dr. Dennis Goldberg of Coeur d’Alene asked the board for assurance that he and other physicians will not be punished merely for treating patients who need large doses of narcotics.

“There is a lot of fear in the medical community when a doctor writes a prescription …” Goldberg told the board. “Give us some instruction for what we do with these individuals … they’re in my office. What do I do?”

The board is considering guidelines modeled after those in California.

Some patients complained that the proposed Idaho guidelines are not specific enough to make doctors feel at ease prescribing large doses of narcotics.

The board’s Wednesday hearing was held at Kootenai Medical Center.

A decision on the guidelines is expected sometime in March.

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