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MountainDaughter

Doctor's Personal Beliefs Impacting Father's Health Re Pain Meds

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Hi! I take care of both my parents which can be very difficult at times. Recently, my father's wonderful doctor at the VA left and he was passed on to a new doctor. Dad has spinal stenosis in his back and nerve pain neropathy down both legs. He has been treated for pain with opiates for the past five years. His medicine is supposed to be sent out every 30 days. For 5 years now that hasn't been a problem. It would arrive exactly on time every month. However his new doctor has been letting it sit in the pharmacy for days and days past the time it is due. she is signing the prescription but not remitting it, etc., so that it just sits up there and lingers. (Two nurses have told me that is what she is doing.) He has been calling and complaining about this every month and eventually after playing games with us for days she will finally remit it and send it on. He was told several times by staff members, nurses, etc that his new doctor 'doesn't believe in writing pain medicine" and "doesn't believe in writing pain medicine for anyone but people with cancer'. This has gone on for months. She even sent him to the pain managment doctor at the clinic to have Dad re-examined. The pain management doctor examined him throughly from head to toe and asked him a lot of questions. We were in there over an hour. then he told us that this doctor is notorious for not writing pain medicine and all her patients with pain issues are going through this same trouble with her. He did, however, recommend on Dad's record that he continue taking his medicine at his dosage level. Now, this month the meds were late as usual and this time I called up and started complaining. The next thing I know, Dad's doctor calls back and says not only is she cutting dad's pills in half and taking him from 3 a day to 2, that next month she is going to cut him in half again, putting him down to the lowest dose possible. I don't know what she'll do after that, but I wouldn't put it past her cutting him off completely.

Now there is more to this. Dad's groin area has been hurting him for months and his testicles have been extrememly swollen. He's been pretty much ignored at the VA when he tried to tell her about it. So, it finally got so bad that one night dad had to go to the ER because of the pain and the fever in his testicles. They diagnosed him with severe epitditimis (the ER doc asked me why his regular doctor had let it go this far and "this is the worse case i have ever seen." They also did an x-ray thinking he might have a hernia. (Let me stress that he was in severe pain and he did not ask for or recieve any pain medicine from the ER. He told me that he is in too much pain to screw around with his pain contract and risk loosing his medicine.) The x-ray showed he has cancer on his kidney and liver. During our next appointment we talked to her about his pain issues and tried to get her to understand. We talked to her about the cancer as well. We gave her copies of the x-ray and she told us that the VA can't accept outside x-rays so she couldn't do anything about the cancer until she had proof.

Yesterday when she called, she told dad he was too old to take pain meds and that he didn't have enough cancer to take pain medicine. Yes, she said he 'doesn't have enough cancer'. How does she know how much cancer he has if the VA doesn't accept outside x-rays? And how much cancer is enough for her to give someone pain relief? When they're screaming on their death bed? At this point I'm so confused. One of the nurses read me the note the doctor left on dad's record about the phone call. It said something like: "patient was complaining of side effects from narcotics so I am cutting dosage. Patient agrees with this." That is an absolute blatant lie as he did NOT agree and he wasn't complaining of any side affects to begin with. He was only trying to get his medicine sent from the pharmacy because it was overdue! I told the nurse that that was a lie.

Throughout all of this we have been trying to get his doctor changed. I have submitted a form at his clinic, have asked the social worker who said he was working on it but haven't heard anything back from him, and asked several times over the phone. Oh, and I called and talked to the scheduling department and asked them to change it as well. All of the nurses and staff at the Va I have talked to feel sorry for us and keep telling us that lots of other veteran's at the clinic are going through the same thing. I'm at my wit's end about what to do. I live with him so i see him in pain everyday and I know he's hurting. I also know that he always takes his pills on time and never abuses them. He has a pain contract with the VA and has kept it for years. I honestly don't see what this woman's problem is. Yesterday again, I was told over the phone that "she is very conservative" and "she just doesn't believe in pain medicine".

Isn't the VA a federal facility? I can understand her doing whatever she wants to at her own private practice, but how can she get away with pesonal religious or political beliefs at a federal VA facility?

I'm afraid that dad might get suicidal if his pain gets bad enough. he was having some nauesea and throwing up before the x-ray but it has been getting steadily worse. I'm afraid this VA doctor is going to kill him with her 'personal beliefs', not to mention all the other poor veterans at the clinic. Please, I'm just so upset I'm crying, can't anyone help me or tell me what I can do next? Isn't there any oversight at the VA clinics at all? I think this woman must have some kind of personal connection or power behind her because everyone there acts like they're afraid to say 'boo' to her. I guess it's politics as usual.

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This is what patient advocates are for you need to go them them at the VAMC and tell them how this "new dr" is causing your father to suffer and he needs his pain meds filled on time each month and without delay, that he has cancer and how his doctor refused to treat his swollen gonads and how bad the problem got to before your dad even went to the ER over it, any patient should NOT have to live with pain of this type and especially a veteran since the doctor has refused to accept the outside Xrays to show the cancer groths did she order new xrays done by the VA? If not she should be removed, if the patient advocate doesn't bring you any satisfaction there is always the hospital director

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Patient Advocate but don't forget you can go to Pharmacy Office and talk to someone in there to help you. I have had better luck talking to supervisor although it may be different at your VA. If nothing ese works talk to the administrator at the hospital or one of their assistants sometimes they can help.

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Good on ya for taking care of your folks, Mountain Daughter.

I'm sorry to hear of this callous new doctor. Too many do-gooders are concerned that a vet might cop a buzz when climbing a clock tower could be the alternative.

I'd raise holy hell with this woman - be such a thorn in the side of that hospital that dispensing a few meds on time pales in comparison.

Of course, that's after a brief attempt with Patient Advocate, Hospital Administrator etc.

But- that's just me.

Good luck!

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I had a problem with the VA Hospital. I called the Patient Advocate. He left me a message that he called the people causing the problem. It did no good. I called him back several times before I finally found him in his office. He told me he was at a loss of words as to what to do.

I connected my Representative which didn't help so I contacted my Senator.

Not only did the Va Hospital call right away but 3 days later I had what I wanted in the mail.

Good luck.

vet12

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