I don’t want to need it. That is a thought that has been all too familiar to me when I venture on the patient side of health care, an industry that I study as a scholar as well with the distance of one investigating a foreign land in which they do not intend to become entrenched. It is a thought that has been all too familiar as I see added to my ...

Read more...

Prince died of an opioid overdose. A tragic and avoidable fate but, even more tragically, one that is becoming increasingly common in the United States. Some people who overdose live on the edge of society–homeless and with no access to good medical care. Prince, by contrast, had several mansions and a number of physicians actively involved in his care, physicians aware of his problem with opiates. ...

Read more...

It’s an unmitigated disaster.  One hundred million pain patients.  Millions addicted to opioids, hundreds of thousands dead.  Pain patients abruptly cut off medication they’ve depended on, sometimes for decades, and offered nothing to replace it.  Doctors, fearful of prosecution for overprescribing, dropping pain patients like hot potatoes.  Pain patients unable to find any doctor that will treat them.  Patients turning to heroin when they can’t get their prescription painkillers.  Articles ...

Read more...

Bacteria are rapidly becoming resistant in our antibiotic-loving society. This statement is a fact. We are facing a threat not only to our country, but to the world. I have a proposal to make: over-the-counter antibiotics. (Insert tongue-in-cheek here.) Will this help us deal with the falsely popular notion that antibiotics are a cure-all? I don’t know, but here’s something I do. I've had patients storm out because I've said no, and I ...

Read more...

Last week, when I stubbed my toe on our family room coffee table, a throbbing pain ensued. Over the next two to three days, as the bruise turned pink and then purple, the pain persisted. During the same time, I had a case of the blues. I am overstressed at work with several staff on vacation, my college-age children had come home and then left to start their internships, and my ...

Read more...

She drew the life-saving medication into the syringe, just 10 cc of colorless fluid for the everyday low price of, gulp, several hundred dollars. Was that a new chemotherapy, specially designed for her tumor? Was it a “specialty drug,” to treat her multiple sclerosis? Nope. It was insulin, a drug that has been around for decades. The price of many drugs has been on the rise of late, not just new ...

Read more...

The news media is hooked on the opioid prescription drug abuse story. Every day, it seems, I read a new announcement:

  • The CDC has issued guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain.
  • The FDA has announced immediate-release pain medications will need to have “black box” warning labels about the risk of addiction, abuse, overdosing and even death.
  • The White House has requested $1.1 billion in its 2017 budget to combat ...

    Read more...

Heroin-Sports-Injury Let's get this straight. I am a doctor, but I didn't cause the opioid epidemic. That is not exactly what you hear in the media these days. After all, doctors are the ones with the prescription pads, and someone must be to blame. The truth is that death from opioid abuse is on the rise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has ...

Read more...

When I meet strangers, and they ask what I do for a living, the conversation tends to go something like this: I tell them I’m a physician. They ask what type. I say that I am a general internist, but I focus mainly on addiction…addiction to prescription opioids (painkillers) and heroin. Invariably, people will say something like, “This has become such a big problem.” I agree, but then they will ...

Read more...

I recently had an enormous kidney stone. Well OK, it seemed enormous to me. But in terms of kidney stones, it was reasonably large; 9 mm, in fact. Large enough that I had to have lithotripsy (the use of sound waves to break up the stone) performed by my friend and most excellent urologist, Dr. Robert McAlpine in Seneca, SC. As uncomfortable as the whole experience was (and it wasn’t my ...

Read more...

Most Popular