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The Drug War's Dangerous Distortion of Medical Standards

Submitted by David Borden on
We haven't reported lately on the issue of under-treatment of pain, so this weekend day seemed like a good time to link to a couple of the sites whose people labor in trenches of the pain struggle every day. First, the war on pain doctors continues, with the latest major battle being that of Wichita-area Dr. Stephen Schneider and his wife Linda Schneider. The Schneiders were charged with the deaths of 56 patients by over-prescribing pain medications, but the judge has now limited the case to just four. My guess is that most of these patients passed due to the medical issues that led them to seek treatment, just as one would expect to happen in any medical practice that takes on seriously ill patients; and that a few might have needed the drugs for pain but misused them (as one would also expect to happen sometimes). I haven't examined the case closely enough for that to be more than a guess, but it's an educated guess, as that is usually what is going on in these pain doctor trials. Visit the Pain Relief Network news update page for info. How have things come to this? Big topic, but Dr. Alex DeLuca has a post last week on his "War on Doctors / Pain Crisis" blog, "The Distortion of Medicine and Confusion of Standards," that goes into some of it. A key part of the problem is that while modern pain management textbooks recommend "titration to effect" -- e.g. "gradually increasing the opioid dose until the pain is relieved or until untreatable side effects prevent further dosage increase" -- most doctors just don't do that. And so patients in ongoing, serious pain go without adequate treatment. This makes the typical standard of pain care below medical standards. But it also means that doctors who wrongly believe they shouldn't be relieving a patient's pain are available to testify in trials for the prosecution -- hence the Schneider trial and many others. Even when the defense brings in experts to testify as to what the expert view really is, it creates confusion that can lead to false convictions. This is in fact what happened in the famous William Hurwitz case. DeLuca goes into this in more detail in an interview filmed by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, linked to in his post, so check it out. Another physician victim of the pain wars, Dr. William Mangino, recently submitted a Reply Brief in the appeal of his case. He is imprisoned in Pennsylvania, and he wrote the brief himself. It paints a pretty terrible picture of the what the government is doing in these cases. Dr. Mangino sent us a copy, via one of his friends, and we've posted it here.

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