In order to protect the privacy of the family, we’re not using names, but have them available for authentication purposes. For today, we’re just going to tell the story.
This young dad, who suffered severe, ongoing pain due to a failed neck surgery and failed spine surgery, went to his pain management doctor the week before Easter, 2016. At that time, the doctor discontinued the opioid component of his pain management plan. No advance notice, no tapering, nothing … just discontinued. He told his brother about it on Easter (3-27-16). On 3-29-16, his daughter called him, but there was no answer. She tried again on 3-30-16…no answer. So she called her Mom, which is the ex-wife of 2 years, and asked her to go to the house and check on him.
She did so and found him on the bathroom floor with the shower still running. He had been there for 2 days. The ambulance took him to McLaren Hospital in Downtown Mount Clemens, MI. They put him into an induced coma and on life-support. One of the daughters told the doctors at the hospital about him being taken off his meds without being tapered (as would have been indicated by the CDC guidelines). The doctors at the hospital said that he had thrown up and aspirated it, most likely because of withdrawals, and that his blood pressure sky-rocketed causing the massive stroke (left side and brain dead). They told the family that if he survived, he would be a vegetable. His other daughter was in Italy at the time, so they had to get her home. They decided to discontinue life support on the evening of 4-11-16, since was technically brain dead…He passed away the morning of 4-12-16.
The first thought that comes to my mind is: This gentleman’s meds were discontinued due to the media hype and physicians being told to discontinue pain meds, so this death is directly attributable to the CDC guidelines and resultant media hype. Had it not been for this, the doctor may have never felt the need to change or discontinue this man’s medicine. One thing is clear, this man shouldn’t have died. If there was a medical reason that the doctor chose to discontinue the medicine, he surely would have told the patient. The patient hadn’t suddenly healed and his pain had not spontaneously resolved, so the change was not made due to medical reasons.
Second, the physician who treated this gentleman was negligent in that he suddenly discontinued opioids that had been used for an extended period of time, which is strictly against good practice of medicine. At the very least, this gentleman should have been warned about the possibilities of symptoms of withdrawal and recommended that he stay supervised for a few days until he felt better. It is noteworthy that although we use the term “withdrawal”, this does not mean that this patient was addicted. He may have been “dependent” upon pain medicine for quality of life and any time you’ve taken opioids for periods of 5 to 8 years, you will have symptoms of withdrawal, even though you’ve been using them exactly as prescribed.
Lastly, and so very extremely sadly, no acknowledgement will be made of this gentleman’s death. No one will be held accountable for this man’s death. There will be no more Christmas get-togethers with Dad, no more birthdays, Dad won’t be there to see the birth of his grandchildren, and the grandchildren will never get to know their grandfather. Even the circumstances surrounding his death aren’t really something that a daughter would want to explain to her children when they ask why their grandfather died.
This death was no different than if a police officer had shot an unarmed man to death. This death is no different than if a terrorist had carried a bomb into a business and pulled the pin sitting next to him, causing the whole building to explode. This death is no different than the death of Prince. They were both young male adult individuals who had their entire lives ahead of them. The only difference here is that this man’s death will get no publicity at all. No one cares. No one believes what is going on with pain control in America, so this article will get little to no attention.
This gentleman’s cousin was in the group I was leading at the time of his death. I cried for two days. It was the first death “on my watch”. It upset me terribly. I felt as though I hadn’t done enough. I am doing everything that I can. It’s just that the opponent is bigger than life itself. And the opponent isn’t ashamed to admit that deaths are occurring due to their actions, or lack of corrective actions.
Someone asked if I had proof that these deaths were due to the CDC guidelines and the physicians’ response thereto, and my response is, yes, I do. I am challenging the Surgeon General of the United States to respond to this, since he was bold enough to send letters to all physicians in America telling them to reduce prescribing – not once, but twice. Is this what you expected … and if not, are you doing anything to change the situation? And the war that you keep talking about … is it REALLY against heroin, or is it REALLY against chronic pain patients?