The following announcement appeared on Twitter on May 17, 2018: “The American Health Information Management Association is asking Congress to pass two proposed bills to prevent patient overdoses by giving physicians more information about addiction treatment, which currently cannot be shared with doctors unless a patient consents. The goal is to ensure that patients suffering from addiction receive the integrated care they need, with the physician having the necessary information to give care that is safe, contends AHIMA, which represents health information management professionals in provider organizations.”
Those words indicated a serious lack of consistency in America’s healthcare system, and the need to repair it. Medical professionals can’t hope to end a patient’s addiction if they lack relevant information about how to do so.
Let’s look at the life of the hectic hospitals and the addicts who abuse them, let alone individual doctors to better understand why America’s opioid crisis became one.
Identifying addicts before they enter treatment to end the problem is a bewildering task for doctors. They’re not GOD, and they can’t know everything, though they might try to learn necessary-to-know information as soon as they can. One of the features of an addict is their tendency to be manipulative, as indicated in the opening lines of an insightful New York Times article by Siddhartha Mukherjee, A Doctor’s Painful Struggle With an Opioid-Addicted Patient : “I once found myself entrapped by a patient as much as she felt trapped by me.” The doctor had been conned by his patient, and was unable to deal with that.
The tale of woe above indicates that integrated care could have made a decisive improvement in the patient’s well-being. It also indicates that doctors have multiple and conflicting responsibilities, so, they’re easily tricked into prescribing addictive medication. They might honesty believe that they’re doing a kindness to help a suffering person to lower their pain, and be unable to deal with the ramifications of addictive behavior. Had Dr. Mukherjee known to whom he could refer the addicted patient, or how best to interact with her, he could have learned the truth about her situation and he might have rescued her quality of life.
Then again, knowledge is power but not a moral virtue. A MEDPageToday article, Opioids Overused for Functional GI Pain, explains that a worrisome number of Veterans Health Administration patients received opioids during a specific year, despite addiction awareness among the prescribing doctors. Other doctors overprescribe opioids, too, despite their awareness of the opioid crisis. The Mayo Clinic studied that problem, and inexplicably failed to explain why they only interviewed relevant patients but not their doctors during the research effort.
So much for AHIMA’s efforts to secure more consistent, productive care for America’s addicted patients. The US opioid crisis is a complicated problem that involves many forms of cheating. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Federal Trade Commission, for instance, are coming down hard on marketers who deceptively claim to sell, or to produce, products that end addictions.
Despite newer legal pressures to end opioid addiction via prescription, and improved medical educations, there are too many other relevant problems with the opioid crisis to address in one article. The glaringly obvious lack of moral values is part of the overall problem, too.
It is clear that Americans need to take a stance about addictive behavior and tendencies. They need to decide to tenaciously prevent addictive problems, and to share wisdom for preventing plus for ending addictions. That requires taking a moral inventory, one person at a time, and then to adopt a productive and preventative mindset that spreads across society. As we learn from classic literature, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” The phrase comes from Plato’s Apology, a memoir of the speech that Socrates gave at his trial. It has fueled many philosophical discussions on and off college campuses. It’s past time to revisit the idea. The USA is on trial, a dysfunctional situation created by incompetence, malfeasance and a culture geared towards instant comfort.
Yocheved Golani is a popular writer whose byline has appeared worldwide in print and online. A certified Health Information Management professional, she is a member of Get Help Israel. Certified in Spiritual Chaplaincy (End of Life issues) and in counseling skills, her life coaching for ill people puts healthy perspective into a clients’ success plan for achieving desired goals.