The ‘compassionate’ Canadian health care system is denying chronic pain sufferers access to opioids. Roy Green speaks with a woman who needs them for her spinal cancer pain.THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO – McMaster University
Beth was born with spinal cancer. She has undergone numerous surgeries and the Ontario woman suffers from horrifically debilitating pain.
Recently Beth, a Canadian who should be benefiting from our highly touted and “free” healthcare, heard her doctor declare that his medical licence is more important than Beth’s right to have her intractable pain put under control.
READ MORE: Quebec government unveils action plan to fight opioid overdoses, addiction
In fact, Beth’s doctor assured her that she has no right to a medical maximum effort to minimize her agony. The doctor intends to reduce Beth’s long-standing and prescribed opioid strength to one which will assuredly fail to drive away Beth’s thoughts of suicide.
Beth turned to the bully in the piece. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. Repeatedly, CPSO has denied that it threatens opioid-prescribing doctors with sanctions, including a loss of medical licence.
CPSO has assured me doctors are under no such pressure. Doctors have assured me they are.
So Beth and her mother placed a call to the college and were connected with a CPSO representative whose responsibility it is to hear out terrified chronic agony patients.
Then Beth’s mother pressed “record.”
READ MORE: Chronic pain patients who take opioids are stigmatized, study shows
Listen to my program podcast from last weekend, and you will hear what took place. You will hear a desperate Beth pleading with a bored-sounding CPSO representative for understanding, for caring, for respect.
LISTEN: No answers for a patient shut out of treatment:
You will hear Beth explaining to the CPSO rep that suicide is on her mind.
The response? Indifferent acknowledgment that Beth had done everything which might reasonably be expected of someone driven to desperation by intractable agony.
Help? None. What might Beth do additionally to help her cause? The CPSO representative was clearly stumped by the question.
Beth’s being driven to suicide by her pain? Silence. Not even the perfunctory issuing of a phone number to a suicide prevention hotline.
This weekend, Beth will rejoin me as she desperately and literally fights for her life.
READ MORE: Opioid deaths continue to drop in B.C., but more than 100 people died in June
Meanwhile, media are issued numbers of opioid overdose statistics. For the most part, these stats likely deal with drug addicts, not chronic pain patients.
Our compassionate Canadian health care system has a suggestion for addicts.
Addicts should be provided with the best available pain control medications. Which is exactly what the compassionate Canadian health care system is denying Beth and millions of intractable pain sufferers.
I’m not indifferent to the plight of drug addicts, but they don’t need my support. The health and political systems brigands are tripping over themselves to provide street addicts with safe injection sites and whatever else they may require.
Beth, though, is expendable. She and all other chronic, intractable agony patients are collateral damage. Listen to her story on my program this Sunday.