My Story: Drug Tests and Pain Contracts Violate Patient Rights – National Pain Report – August 28th, 2014 by Arianne Grand Gassaway
My story with chronic pain began in 2010. I sustained two herniated discs in my neck in a tree cutting accident. My injury resulted in severe pain in my neck, with reduced range of motion, weakness and pain in my left arm and hand.
I declined spinal surgery or epidurals based on my research of the procedures and possible complications from them, which include infections, increased pain, loss of the ability to talk, additional nerve injury, and more.
I was able to cope effectively with the pain through the use of opiate drugs and muscle relaxants
In late 2012 I was told by my doctor that I would be required to submit to a random drug screen and sign what was referred to as a “pain contract.”
I was told that if I declined, I would no longer receive my medication.
Such coercion is unethical in any other area of medicine. Doctors are deliberately withholding necessary medication to punish non-compliant patients.
I asked if I was being accused of something (because that is what it felt like) and was told that “there is a drug epidemic in our country” and that I needed to verify that I was using the drugs she prescribed. This contract also stipulated random pill counts and various other restrictions on pharmacies, etc.
I submitted to the drug test and signed the contract under threat of not receiving further treatment if I refused.
In my opinion, these policies and practices amount to coercion and to search and seizure without probable cause or due process. It is to me a very clear violation of patient rights, criminal law, and a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
When I was asked to submit to a second drug screen the following year, I refused and told my doctor that I felt it violated my rights. She said she was sorry I felt that way. I asked her what the results of the first drug test were, and she said it showed I was not using any illicit drugs and that I had levels of the drug she prescribed me.
Needless to say, I am no longer receiving treatment for my pain.
I contacted the ACLU and they refused to help. They told me that drug testing is a federal recommendation to combat the drug epidemic in our country and that these practices are now the national standard of care for treating pain patients.
Also, as there is no law requiring drug tests in my home state of California, the ACLU will not represent any individual in this matter.
(Editor’s note: the ACLU has filed a class action lawsuit against the Medical Licensing Board of Indiana for requiring physicians to have pain patients submit to mandatory drug testing.)
It is a travesty that patients with chronic pain are being treated like criminals, with the threat of being denied medical care if they refuse to give up their rights. Being forced to take drug tests and submit to random searches of medications only serves to marginalize patients seeking relief from painful illnesses and injuries.
I have decided not be silent and I am willing to stand up for those who feel that they can’t because I know how hard it is to fight a war when every day is already a struggle.
ACLU Sues over Mandatory Drug Tests – National Pain Report – January 10th, 2014 by Pat Anson, Editor
In one of the first lawsuits of its kind, the American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit against the Medical Licensing Board of Indiana challenging the constitutionality of a new rule requiring some pain patients to submit to mandatory drug testing.
seeks a court order to prohibit the Licensing Board from requiring patients who receive certain levels of opioid pain medications to sign a “Treatment Agreement” that consents to drug testing at least once a year.
The Fourth Amendment protects all of us from government-mandated searches unless there is cause or justification. The mandatory drug testing simply goes too far,
The tests are required for patients taking more than 60 opioid containing pills a month or a morphine equivalent dose of more than 15 milligrams a day for more than three consecutive months.
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It’s like we’re under surveillance like terrorist and treated like criminals. No one asks for chronic pain. People shouldn’t be FORCED to suffer. The treatment of pain is a basic human right. It’s a travesty that the government is in the doctor patient relationship. Drug test and pill counts is mistrust in the doctor patient relationship. No other group of patients are treated as horribly or have to jump through hoops for healthcare. People who don’t have chronic pain make these mandates. I’d like for these people to walk a mile in our chronic painful conditions and see how they themselves feel. Chronic pain patients are not drug addicts looking for a high. They want pain relief to have a better quality of life. I myself have contacted the ACLU and they just don’t speak out for the rights of pain patients. There’s so much misinformation and propaganda. I didn’t cause the illicit fentanyl poisoning epidemic but I’m being punished for those who use illegal drugs.
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That’s exactly how many of us feel: pain relief is being withheld from us to somehow prevent overdoses, which occur mainly among people ingesting illicit street drugs from the same chemical class (opioids). And that implies we *are* those people and need to be saved from ourselves.
They claim “opioids are dangerous” or “bad for you” and then force us to suffer pain “for our own good” so we don’t get addicted and/or overdose. After taking our meds for years & decades without any problems, we are suddenly at risk?
The ignorance and scare tactics around opioids are a result of public health (CDC) using poorly sourced data and inappropriate population statistics to trample the rights of individual patients.
I’m appalled that doctors didn’t band together to fight this idiocy from the beginning, when they could have made a difference. By the time they noticed that the DEA was essentially regulating the practice of medicine, it was too late to stop the juggernaut of opio-phobia with its tsunami of propaganda.