New opi­oid rules are too re­stric­tive

The Hamilton Spectator - - OPINION -

RE: Er­rors made cre­at­ing opi­oid gude, Mac says (May 20)

The new McMaster opi­oid guide­lines are flawed. But the prob­lem isn’t con­flict of in­ter­est — it’s that they re­strict opi­oid ac­cess too much.

Opi­oids are med­i­cally nec­es­sary for many chronic pain pa­tients. Con­trary to Guy­att’s let­ter, they were al­ready pre­scribed with ex­treme cau­tion in Canada. Many pa­tients who needed opi­oids could not get them be­cause their doc­tors simply did not pre­scribe opi­oids.

In the US, sim­i­lar opi­oid guide­lines have re­sulted in mass aban­don­ment of chronic pain pa­tients by their doc­tors.

Peo­ple with chronic pain have been left with no health care be­cause doc­tors refuse to take them on, ter­ri­fied of li­a­bil­ity if they pre­scribe opi­oids. The new opi­oid guide­lines al­low for opi­oid pre­scrib­ing in very lim­ited cir­cum­stances, but doc­tors are ha­rassed by reg­u­la­tory bod­ies to the point where they are afraid to pre­scribe any opi­oids at all.

Chronic pain pa­tients ex­pe­ri­ence lit­eral tor­ture when they are de­prived of nec­es­sary pain med­i­ca­tion, some­times lead­ing to post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der. Lack of med­i­ca­tion can also make them un­able to work or take care of their fam­i­lies. Ac­cess to pain relief is a ba­sic hu­man right.

For many peo­ple with chronic pain, these new guide­lines put free­dom from tor­ture even fur­ther out of reach. Christine Hughes-Wik­lund, Ger­many (I moved to Ger­many from Hamil­ton about a year ago and plan to re­turn to Canada in a few years.)

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