Editorial on opioid settlement unfair to pain specialist

I am deeply disappointed in The Herald after reading the Feb. 6 editorial regarding opioids (“An opioid settlement presents some concerns,”). Your reference to Dr. Donald Dillinger was incredibly misleading by omitting the fact that he practiced as a pain specialist. He didn’t treat patients for diabetes, high blood pressure or nagging rashes. He only treated patients whose chronic pain was so severe that opioids were required, so of course he wrote a lot more opioid prescriptions!

It is unjust treatment like this that has led to pain specialists becoming harder and harder to find. Pain specialists put themselves at great personal and professional risk to treat patients who most doctors are now afraid of. All of us are just one injury or illness away from needing pain care. Will it be there for you when you need it?

A state law, passed in 2011, attempted to address the opioid problem by creating the requirement that pain specialists be involved with patient care where opioids exceed a defined dosage. Subsequent efforts to address the opioid problem have unfortunately left doctors fearful of treating chronic pain patients with opioids at any dose, so they now refer those patients to pain specialists. This leaves a few doctors, like Dr. Dillinger, to do a disproportionate amount of opioid prescribing, which then makes them a target for regulators and news media!

So, way to go, Herald. Not only have pain patients and their doctors become casualties of the war on opioids, but so has informed, honest coverage of the issue.

Angela Carlson


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