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August 2016 Archives

Can a doctor's discretion be challenged by a licensing board?

Abuses in the prescription of opioid drugs have been the topic of recent media coverage, such as the apparent overdose of musical artist Prince. This raises the question: Could a doctor find his or her medical license in danger after issuing an opioid prescription that resulted in overdose?

AUTOMATIC LICENSE SUSPENSION FOR NURSES CONVICTED OF A FELONY UNDER THE CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE ACT

In August, 2013, the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing drastically changed the interpretation of the statute governing suspension of a nursing license for a violation under the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act.

Could a discretionary surgery endanger a doctor's license?

A medical professional’s license might be challenged when surgical procedures or treatments go awry. For example, if a patient’s injury leads to a lawsuit, that filing might be made in conjunction with a complaint lodged with the Pennsylvania State Board of Medicine or the State Board of Nursing. 

AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION RECOMMENDS THAT PAIN BE REMOVED AS A 5th VITAL SIGN IN PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL STANDARDS

The American Medical Association (AMA), the nation's largest medical society, recently recommended at its annual meeting that pain be removed as a "5th Vital Sign" in professional medical standards. AMA President, Andrew Gurman, MD, said that physicians played a key role in starting the so-called "opioid epidemic" by over prescribing pain medications, and now must do their part to end it. Pain was first recognized as the 5th Vital Sign in 1996, giving pain equal status with temperature, respiratory rate, heart rate and blood pressure. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the drug overdose death rate from opioids increased by 200 percent between the years 2000 and 2014. I recently spoke to a leading addiction psychiatrist who told me that, in his opinion, the leading cause of opioid addiction can be associated with adding pain as the 5th Vital Sign in the 1990's. As a result, he indicated, opioids began to be over-prescribed. In my experience in working with healthcare professionals, many heroin users started with prescription opioids. This past March, the CDC published new guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain. These guidelines provide recommendations for primary care physicians who are prescribing opioids for chronic pain outside of active cancer treatment, palliative care, and end of life care. The guidelines address when to initiate or continue opioids for chronic pain, opiate selection, dosage, duration, follow-up, and discontinuation; and assessing risk and addressing harms of opioid use. In a recent blog, I noted that the Pennsylvania Board of Pharmacy and the Pennsylvania Board of Medicine recently approved new guidelines for distributing and prescribing opioids. The CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain - United States, 2016, is an article well worth reading and can be viewed at www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/prescribing/guideline.html 

Don't confuse licensure actions with patient quality ratings

A proactive approach toward professionalism might involve transparency and communication with superiors. However, an investigator that approaches a medical professional with questions may warrant a different approach. Indeed, statements made to such individuals might be used as evidence to an unfavorable effect later on.

HAS YOUR USE OF OPIATE MEDICATION CAUSED YOU TO START DIVERTING?

I spoke with a nurse today who was fired from his job for diverting narcotics. His use of pain medication started with a legitimate back problem a few years ago. At that time, he used Percocet as prescribed. When he had recent back problems, he again began using Percocet and he remembered how he thought it also helped with his life problems. He described to me that when he took Percocet all was right with the world. He felt that he had more energy, more motivation and could function at a higher level. Stressful situations often seemed more manageable. Within a matter of months, the Percocet was no longer giving him the feelings that he initially had. He needed higher doses to achieve the same affect. This led to diversion of Percocet, which quickly led to diversion of morphine and dilaudid.

If you are a licensed nurse, doctor, dentist, pharmacist or any other professional in Pennsylvania, call The Law Offices of Brian E. Quinn for help. Based in Philadelphia, our attorneys have decades of experience in the fields of professional license defense, criminal defense and family law.

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