New narcotics law a headache for doctors, worse for patients
In about six months, on Aug. 27, a new regulation requires physicians to go online to a New York website to check the history of any patient for whom they are going to prescribe a [controlled substance]. The goal is to decrease the number of deaths from overdoses.
I have been treating opioid-dependent patients for the past decade, and the vast majority, over 90 percent, haven’t obtained their narcotics from physicians. They have bought them on the “street.” Therefore it is dubious that this regulation will have the desired effect.
The cost! If I can spend as little as six minutes online for each patient, and being semi-retired have 50 patients, it will waste five hours of my time each month.
For those at the legal limit of 100 patients, the cost will be 10 hours each month. This is a good deal of unpaid time which will require me to increase my fee, and I assume others as well. Worse is the number of patients who will be rejected because we won’t have the time to see them.
If the approximately 3 percent or 2,000 physicians in New York who can treat opioid dependence with Buprenorphine [were] to reduce their patient load by even 15, we would have 30,000 patients who will remain addicted and unable to obtain treatment. (How many of these will die from an overdose?)
Already, potential patients who call me report making 25 calls to physicians who are already at their limit. I have patients who are motivated enough to drive four and a half hours each way because they can’t find a doctor who can treat them in their area, or in Massachusetts.
How this will affect the 65,000 physicians in New York who don’t prescribe Suboxone is another question.
I wish there was a regulation requiring the people who make these decisions to consult with the New York Medical Society.
Jack L. Underwood, M.D.
High military suicide rate not all that of a surprise
The suicide rate for active military has been almost one per day for four years. Last year there were more active-duty suicides than deaths by combat in Afghanistan, and more combat deaths in the last four years than in the previous seven years. The suicide rate for veterans averages 22 per day. Why so many suicides?
The media/public typically comments: “Dumb war” ... “What a waste” ...“We should spend the money on infrastructure” ... “Why waste their time serving?” As with Vietnam veterans, current veterans hear [vulgar] comments for serving (two years ago in my case). As with Vietnam, there are no longer prisoner-of-war provisions. Infantry are forced to free prisoners or murder them (I saw it done in Vietnam multiple times).
If Vietnam POWs were deemed to have potentially meaningful information, the ARVN [Army of the Republic of Vietnam] took them in a chopper and, one at a time, threw prisoners out until the remaining prisoners talked; then they threw them out.
The White House has imposed so many restrictions on combat forces, they are barely able to defend themselves. On the last day of the Iraq war, a U.S. general was quoted as saying that in the past three years there were more combat deaths than the previous six years because the current administration provides little to no diplomatic initiative.
Paul H. Finnegan
Hastily passed gun law will hurt more than help
I fully understand the desire of everyone to address the problem of these murder rampages.
The way the Legislature handled the problem, however, was clearly not well thought out. I think poor judgment was used by all parties in passing new laws so quickly.
People such as myself will be saddled with restrictions and costs that in no way will prevent these crimes. The administration will be costly and the killings will continue.
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