Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

Listen to Smart Talk live online from 9-10 a.m. weekdays and at 7 p.m. (Repeat of 9 a.m. program)

Host: Scott LaMar

Smart Talk: Doctors on frontlines of prescription med fight

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Mar 31, 2015 2:27 PM
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What to look for on Smart Talk Wednesday, April 1, 2015:

The number of deaths caused by prescription opioids exceeds those caused by heroin and cocaine combined.  That's one of the reasons new pain treatment guidelines were endorsed last year in Pennsylvania.

Heroin overdose deaths may get the most attention and much of it has to do with the large increase in heroin OD deaths last year in Pennsylvania and that heroin is now being used by middle-class suburban Pennsylvanians.

However, 80% of heroin users had previously used prescription drugs -- mostly pain killers.

Often, painkillers like Oxycontin or Vicodin could be found in someone's medicine cabinet at home.  Maybe someone else in the home had used them after a surgery or dental procedure.  But once the bottle in the medicine cabinet was emptied, the user would have to purchase them from a dealer or try to obtain a prescription from a doctor.  It even would go as far as shopping for multiple doctors for prescriptions.

Pennsylvania enacted new laws last year that included a database for prescriptions.  Guidelines were also issued for physicians in how to treat pain.

As part of WITF's Real Life Real Issues Drugs and Young People project, Dr. Michael Bohrn, president of the Pennsylvania College of Emergency Physicians appears on Wednesday's Smart Talk.

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  • Radio Smart Talk img 2015-04-01 08:31

    Allison writes:

    Thank you for this relevant and on-point discussion.

    I understand the Doctor's points, and the problem of drugs in the mid-state. I work in Behavioral Healthcare.

    A few years ago I began to have difficulty walking, and over a period of six months experienced increasing pain. Eventually it evolved - one day, upon waking, I couldn't put any pressure on my foot. My PCP sent me to the ER on two different occasions..

    On the second visit two different Resident Physicians evaluated me; in the interest of brevity, I won't delve into the detail - but, their line of questioning was very odd. After an X-Ray, they stated to me that there was nothing wrong with me and that they will give me nine pills to help with pain, and cautioned me against using drugs. I was not seeking drugs on these visits; I was sent to the ER by my PCP and we were seeking a diagnosis.

    My PCP then referred me to OSS in York; the very same day. I was diagnosed immediately with Achilles Tendon tears and bone spur impingement. I had corrective surgery, and after a long recover - literally - got back on my feet.

    Before this pain and problem w/walking I owned a business, because it took so long to diagnose and treat the problem - I had to close the business. You can imagine the devastation.

    On the other I know people, including family members, who are prescribed loads of pain medications following a minor procedure - they end up disposing of them.

    I am a person in my mid-50's; I do not drink alcohol, except on rare occasions, such as holidays and anniversaries. I do not smoke. I avoid the use of prescription drugs, instead favoring herbs, teas, yoga and meditation. I am college educated and do a lot of volunteer work in my community.

    I suffer from chronic pain due to RA; my doctors tell me to continue w/ Tylenol, and other remedies. Most of the time these techniques help me manage the pain. But - three to five days a month it is unbearable, I cannot open a carton of milk or lift a gallon of milk. My doctors tell me that due to new regulations they don't want to prescribe anything stronger than Tramadol and Extra Strength Tylenol.

    ED Doctors, I am sure, become fatigued and biased b/c of the nature of the environment. Can your guest speak to a tendency to rush to judgement b/c of developing bias?