Published by Pain News Network

(Editor’s note: Patient abandonment is a serious and growing problem in the pain community. Thousands of patients have been discharged by doctors who have grown fearful of treating chronic pain and losing their medical licenses for prescribing opioid medication. We were recently contacted by a nurse practitioner, who offered her perspective on this disturbing trend. The author asked to remain anonymous.)

I am a nurse practitioner who has been in the field of pain management for the past 4 years. Prior to that, I spent years as an intensive care unit nurse and in primary care as an advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP).

Working with chronic pain patients has been the highlight of my professional career. I absolutely love my job and about 99% of my patients. I have had two complaints about me made to the Washington State Department of Health, both of which accused me of prescribing too much opioid medication to my patients. Both complaints were investigated by the state and I was found to be practicing within the standards of care — and essentially told to continue. Which I did.

Then the Seattle Pain Centers closed in 2016, leaving thousands of untreated pain patients in the Puget Sound area. I inherited some of their patients. I felt like I had been “vetted” by the state, and believed that if I continued to do everything according to the law, I would be safe from any legal action.

In my practice, we fight ALL THE TIME for our patients, against the state, insurance companies, pharmacies and even the patient’s families sometimes (when they don’t understand). I’m not afraid of a good fight, because I have seen patients’ lives turned around when they are finally given the correct amount of opioids. I believe in opioid therapy.