Tag Archives: ethics

Delivering Quality Patient Experience without Opioids?

Reconciling the Opioid Crisis with Delivering Quality Patient ExperienceSara Health – Apr 2018

The nationwide opioid crisis has called into question the use of narcotic pain relieving drugs. But as clinicians work to prevent addiction, they face a quality patient experience quandary.

It seems that doctors are now expected to give equal weight to patient pain relief, opioid restrictions, and “customer satisfaction” reviews. The skills, experience, and professionalism of doctors have been devalued to little more than gaming “customer satisfaction” surveys.

Doctors are now just providers of standardized transactional “healthcare services” to customers, who are expected to shop around for the best value, the highest patient-satisfaction scores, and preferably both.   Continue reading

Health Insurance Industry Interfering with Pain Mgmt

The Role of the Health Insurance Industry in Perpetuating Suboptimal Pain Management – Mar 2011

The author concludes that the outlook for chronic pain sufferers is not particularly bright, until such time that a not-for-profit single-payer system replaces the current treatment/reimbursement paradigm.

Background

Unlike pain practitioners, health care insurers in the United States are not expected to function according to a system of medical ethics.

Rather, they are permitted to function under the business “ethic” of cost-containment and profitability.

This capitalist principle is a problem for all social services because they serve a sector of society that often cannot pay; either their jobs don’t pay enough or they are too disabled to work.  Continue reading

Corporate Law Creates Sociopaths

The Most Important Problem in the World – Medium by James Gamble – Mar 2019

The most important problem in the world is a reasonable sounding provision of the corporate law that governs most major U.S. companies.

The rule: corporate management and Boards of directors are obligated by law to make decisions that maximize the economic value of the company.

This is how you end up with absurdities like this: 400% price hike for drugs is ‘moral requirement’. It’s frightening to be at the mercy of such ruthless entities making our health unaffordable, yet this is what corporations were created to do.  Continue reading

Rein In ‘Sociopaths’ in the Boardroom

Ex-Corporate Lawyer’s Idea: Rein In ‘Sociopaths’ in the Boardroom – NY Times – By Andrew Ross Sorkin – July 2019

This “reformed” lawyer points out a fundamental flaw of our capitalist system that is responsible for increasing income inequality (rich getting richer, poor getting poorer), dysfunctional government (gridlock), and social decay (deaths of despair).

These troubles stem from a particular aspect of corporate law, and he proposes a relatively simple solution to change how corporations operate.

Jamie Gamble, a retired corporate lawyer, has had an epiphany in recent years: The executives who hired him and that his firm sought to protect, he said, “are legally obligated to act like sociopaths.”   Continue reading

Obscure advisory committees on U.S. drug pricing

The obscure advisory committees at the heart of the U.S. drug pricing debate – Reuters – by Caroline Humer – April 2019

Expectations were high last year for three new migraine drugs hitting the market from Amgen Inc, Eli Lilly and Co and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries.

Priced around $7,000 each, the drugmakers called them “breakthrough” treatments designed to prevent migraines when taken year-round, and estimated that millions of patients could benefit

But a small group of external medical experts who quietly advise U.S. health insurers on new drugs was not impressed, according to a private meeting held at UnitedHealth Group’s OptumRx offices in Chicago that was attended by Reuters.   Continue reading

Rein In ‘Sociopaths’ in the Boardroom

Ex-Corporate Lawyer’s Idea: Rein In ‘Sociopaths’ in the Boardroom – NY Times – By  –  July 2019

Jamie Gamble spent most of his career as a partner at the law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, which counts virtually every major company in the United States — including Facebook, General Motors, Google and JPMorgan Chase — among its clients.

Mr. Gamble has had an epiphany since retiring nearly a decade ago that is so damning of his former life that it is likely to give his ex-partners a case of agita. He has concluded that corporate executives — the people who hired him and that his firm sought to protect — “are legally obligated to act like sociopaths.”

He’s not the only one to notice this: 400% price hike for drugs is ‘moral requirement’ Continue reading

Access to Pain Management as a Human Right

Access to Pain Management as a Human Right – free full-text /PMC6301399/Am J Public Health. – Jan 2019

It seems that politicians, government agencies, and law enforcement simply don’t see this, though they’d quickly change their minds if it were their own flesh in agony.

The concept of access to pain management as a human right has gained increasing currency in recent years. Commencing as individual advocacy, it was later embraced by the disciplines of pain medicine and palliative care and by mainstream human rights organizations.

Today, United Nations and regional human rights bodies have accepted the concept and incorporated it into key human rights reports, reviews, and standards.    Continue reading

Doctors’ duty to relieve suffering

The two PubMed articles in this post are from the early 2000s, over 16 years ago, yet they describe the same situation we’re stuck in today, with doctors being squeezed, harrassed, and sued from both sides of the opioid controversy.

Sometimes they are successfully sued for refusing to administer necessary pain relief when a jury decides that “insufficient pain management in a dying patient constituted abuse by a physician.” (which seems obviously right to me)

Other times they are successfully sued when a doctor who “provided comfort care to terminally ill patients was accused of performing euthanasia.” (luckily, the conviction was later overturned)

I’m very glad I’m not a doctor who has to make such potentially career-ending decisions these days.  Continue reading

40% of doctors refuse new patients taking opioids

Access to Primary Care Clinics for Patients With Chronic Pain Receiving Opioids – Jama Network Open – July 2019

This JAMA study shows that 40% of doctors refuse a new patient if they are using opioids. Many refuse not just to manage their pain, but to manage any other aspect of their general health.

Findings  In this survey study of Michigan primary care clinics, 79 clinics contacted (40.7%) stated that their practitioners would not accept new patients receiving opioid therapy for pain. There was no difference based on insurance type.

Meaning  The findings suggest that access to primary care may be reduced for patients taking prescription opioids, which could lead to unintended consequences, such as conversion to illicit substances or poor management of other mental and physical comorbidities.   Continue reading

Ethical Responsibility to Manage Pain and Suffering

The Ethical Responsibility to Manage Pain and the Suffering It Causes – Position Statement of the American Nurses Association, Apr 2018 – Repost

I’m reposting this from last year because it’s such a good (and rare) example of a reasonable attitude toward opioids. The Nurses Association gets credit for standing up for patients a year earlier than others.

The purpose of this position statement is to provide ethical guidance and support to nurses as they fulfill their responsibility to provide optimal care to persons experiencing pain. 

The national debate on the appropriate use of opioids highlights the complexities of providing optimal management of pain and the suffering it causes.

In these first sentences, the difference between nurses and doctors shine through:

Nurses are much more concerned with suffering, while doctors nit-pick about what is painful and what isn’t, who is “really” hurting and who is “catastrophizing”.   Continue reading