New Trial for Martyred Pain Doctor William Hurwitz

Dr. William Hurwitz, whose case we’ve reported on extensively, has been granted a new trial.

From the Washington Post:

A federal appeals court threw out the conviction of William E. Hurwitz yesterday, granting the prominent former Northern Virginia pain-management doctor a new trial because jurors were not allowed to consider whether he prescribed drugs in good faith. The decision again galvanized the national debate that the Hurwitz case had come to symbolize: whether fully licensed doctors prescribing legal medication to patients in chronic pain should be subject to prosecution if their patients abuse or sell the drugs. Patient advocate groups strongly supported Hurwitz and expressed concern that his conviction would have a chilling effect on pain doctors.

This is fantastic news. It’s been over a year and half since Hurwitz’s conviction, during which time we’ve seen a dramatic increase in media attention to the misguided war on pain management doctors and their patients. The controversy surrounding Richard Paey’s case in Florida has brought this issue into the mainstream, ensuring that a second Hurwitz trial will be a tougher sell for prosecutors.

Dr. Hurwitz was manipulated by deceptive patients, then convicted by deceptive prosecutors who lied to the jury and mischaracterized his career-long commitment to effective pain-management. Let’s hope he finally gets the justice he deserves.

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William Hurwitz

How can anyone, much less a Dr., prescribe 1600 pills a day to a patient? If you are awake 16 hours a day, that works out to 1 pill every 36 seconds. You guys are as unreal as he is

Comment posted by Anonymous on Wed, 09/20/2006 - 3:36pm

Anonymous was quick to judge and understandably misled by the inflammatory "1,600" pills allegation just as Dr. Hurwitz's jury might well have been bamboozled by the prosecution.
The quantity of medication actually prescibed (not the "number" of pills) is the key to correctly understanding what is going on here.
For example, during the last year of her life, my terminally ill wife was taking about two dozen pills daily to control her cancer pain. But each pill contained 80 mg. of narcotic medication. That amounts to 385 pills a day if you reckon at 5 mg. per "pill," the basic standard strength of many prescribed low dose narcotic pain pills. Since she weighed 73 pounds at the time of her death, it's easy to understand how a physically larger patient might be taking several times this amount of medication.
Pain specialists know that seriously ill patients may reasonably take large amounts of narcotic medication that can be made to seem stunningly large to the average person who has little or no knowledge of pain management and the tolerances that can build up over time.
After seeing (up close and personal) how badly my dear wife suffered during her five year battle with cancer, I will never again be able to get on the high horse that anonymous so clearly is proud to be riding. I hope that people like Anonymous will learn compassion without having to pay the price of watching a loved one die an inch at a time without the sort of help that Dr. Hurwitz courageously provided to his patients.
Thank God my wife had a doctor who understood what she was going through and prescribed what amounts of medication she needed in order to help her maintain at least a moderate quality of life.

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