A doctor’s compassion for pain gets him in trouble
“Dr. J. Howard Shegog is a ‘simple man who got confused between compassion and value (of care), and it went haywire,’ said a nurse who testified Thursday in the Newport News internist’s hearing before the state Board of Medicine . . .

. . . Welsh said she worked with Shegog for six years and saw his clientele of ‘drug-seeking’ patients grow until it reached about three of every five patients. The patients frequently appeared to be impaired from substance abuse, suffering from slurred speech and an unsteady gaze, she said.

They badgered the clinic staff for painkiller prescriptions, leading to disruptions in the clinic.

A meeting between the staff and Shegog was called in the fall of 2001, Welsh said. They asked him to quit treating patients with pain management issues, and the clinic sent letters to a number of his patients advising them to see a pain management specialist, she said.

But, she said, patients seeking pain medication returned, and it got to be overwhelming.

‘The joke was, if they were men it was for lower back pain. If it was a female it was for migraines,’ Welsh said.”

Another anecdote showing that chronic pain should be left to specialists. There is no doubt that chronic pain is a widespread, and real, medical problem. However, in the rushed, conveyor-belt environment of primary care, it is difficult to spend the appropriate time to manage these patients. Many times it is easier to just write the prescription instead of engaging the patient in a comprehensive pain management plan. That is why chronic pain should be left to specialists – or else you’ll get into trouble like Dr. Shegog.

The board took away his license.


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