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12 Issues Pain Management Patients Need to Know About Possessing Rx Pain Medication

Pain Management Patients are different from other patients primarily because of the medication they will be prescribed to treat their chronic pain. The following explains 12 issues that every pain management patient needs to understand.

1. Legal Issues – A Potential Criminal Violation

  • It is illegal (a felony in most states) to give, loan, rent of sell medication to anyone, including family members.
  • It is illegal (a felony in most states) to receive or possess pharmaceutical medication that has been prescribed to another person, including a family member.

2. It is Illegal to Carry Loose Prescription Pain Medication in Your Pocket or Purse.

A pain management patient should always carry their medication in the container provided by the pharmacy that displays a label authorizing the patient to be in possession of the medication.

  • If the container is too large to carry around, the pain management patient should ask the pharmacist to provide them a smaller container with a duplicate label to carry a few pills at a time or have the pharmacist provide a duplicate non-sticky label that the patient can carry in their wallet or purse.
  • The pain management patient should always carry their government issued driver’s license or identification card at all times (outside their home) so they can identify themselves if needed.

3. Potential Dangers of Prescription Medication

Pain management patients are prescribed certain medications based on their level of pain, as well as their body’s ability to safely process the medication. It is important to understand that:

  • Prescription pain medication can be extremely dangerous and potentially deadly if it is not taken under the supervision of a physician.
  • Prescription pain medication should be kept out of sight and reach of children.
  • If a child consumes any prescription pain medication, the child could die.

4. Keeping the Patient’s Information Secure

The market for prescription pain medication to be sold illegally on the street is extremely high. More criminal street gangs are obtaining this medication to sell on the street than ever before. Criminal street gangs and others will victimize pain management patients by stealing their medication to sell on the street. The pain management patient should be:

  • Very selective in whom they tell about their medical condition.
  • Very selective in whom they tell about the medication they are taking.
  • Very selective in whom they tell about the pharmacy they are using.

5. Keeping the Patient’s Information from Being Stolen

Many people are unaware that identities are stolen from information found in trash bags/cans set out curbside to be picked up. Information on the receipts people obtain from the pharmacy when they have their prescriptions filled is very comprehensive. Some receipts display the patient’s name, address, telephone number, name of doctor, name and location of the pharmacy, the name of the medication the patient is taking and the prescription number. Much of this same information can be found on the pill bottle label. If your prescription has refills (using this information) a drug seeker can pose as the pain patient’s care taker and pick up the patient’s refill before the patient has a chance to. Also, now knowing what type of medication the patient has in their home, a person can sell this information to a criminal street gang who may burglarize the patient’s home to obtain the patient’s medication to sell on the street. Pain management patients should:

  • Destroy all documents containing their medical information prior to discarding them in the trash.
  • Destroy the label displayed on the side of the pill bottle before discarding the pill bottle in the trash.

6. Keeping the Patient’s Medication Secured

Because of the crimes associated with people attempting to gain prescription pain medication to illegally sell on the street, it is important for patients to:

  • Keep their pain management medication from being in plain view.
  • Keep their pain management medication in a place only known by the patient and/or the patient’s caretaker.

If the patient keeps their pain management medication in their purse, they should secure their purse while at home.

7. Patient Accountability – Best Interest of the Patient

Pain management patients are special people held to a high standard of discipline when it comes to the accountability of their medication. Patients must understand that ‘patient accountability’ is mandatory for several reasons:

  • The medication can be dangerous or even deadly if not taken as directed.
  • The patient can become addicted if the medication is not controlled.
  • The doctor prescribing the medication is held accountable for properly prescribing and monitoring their patients.
  • Pain medication can be very valuable on the street.

Most importantly, patient accountability policies are mandated “for the best interest of the patient”. Patients must understand that a physician cannot look at a patient and tell if they have a potential to become addicted to the medication. To ensure that the patient is not experiencing a problem with their medication, it is important for the patients to understand the following:

  • They will undergo pill counts.
  • They will undergo random urine drug testing.
  • Any unused medication must be counted and destroyed while at the clinic.

8. Seeing Other Doctors

Pain management patients should understand the difference between seeing other doctors for reasons other than pain management and doctor shopping. Patients should understand that they can see other doctors for other medical conditions and they can also see another doctor for pain control if their pain management doctor is unavailable; however, if the pain management patient goes to another doctor for a pain condition, the pain management patient must:

  • Advise the other doctor that they are being treated for pain management (disclosing the doctor’s name and type of medication that they are taking) prior to accepting a prescription for additional pain management medication.
  • The patient should also understand that during their next appointment with their pain management specialist, they must advise the pain management specialist that they had been examined by the other doctor (disclosing the doctor’s name and type of medication the doctor prescribed to the patient), as well as the reason for the examination.

The patient should also understand that if the patient fails to make any of these disclosures, this could be regarded as doctor shopping and they may be charged with a criminal offense if their state has a doctor shopping statute.

9. Planning

Pain management patients should understand the importance of being present for their appointment. Some people believe that prescription renewals can be called in (even out of state) if they run out of medication while on vacation. Pain management patients should understand that:

  • They should be on time for each appointment.
    • If their appointment is missed, it could take up to two weeks to schedule another appointment.
  • They should schedule their vacation between their appointments.
    • Renewals for medication require a face to face appointment.

10. Patient/Opioid Agreement

Each pain management patient will sign a Patient/Opioid Agreement that represents a critical understanding of what the patient can expect of the doctor and what the doctor can expect of the patient. The pain management patient should understand that violating this agreement could result in the patient being terminated from treatment. Each issue of the agreement is important and will be enforced.

11. Following the Treatment Plan

Being treated for chronic pain management is no different than being treated for any other medical condition. The patients need to understand that the success of their treatment relies on following each component of the treatment plan and that every component of the treatment plan is extremely important. Pain management patients also need to understand that they will be expected to take part in every component of the treatment plan. Failing to take part in each component of the treatment plan will likely result in the pain management patient being terminated from the practice.

12. Rapport with the Physician

It could be argued that an open rapport between the doctor and the patient is the most critical factor in the successful treatment for chronic pain. Pain management patients should feel comfortable in explaining their concerns about the affect they are experiencing with their medication to the clinician. Trust is the key. Pain management patients should understand that:

  • They can tell their clinician about any issue that they may be experiencing with their medication.
  • Keeping a potential problem to themselves (regarding their medication) could result in becoming addicted to the medication.