Methadone: A Flicker Of Light In The Dark

Methadone: A Flicker Of Light In The Dark

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 Kenton County Coroner Broke Methadone Law by treating MMT pts in private practice

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lilgirllost
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Location: live in Louisiana but attend MMT clinic in Tx
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Registration date: 2009-05-25

PostSubject: Kenton County Coroner Broke Methadone Law by treating MMT pts in private practice   Sat Aug 01, 2009 12:31 am

This is an older article from the Kentucky Post, but when I came across it I had to share it with you all. This story makes me so angry! This doctor was trying to help these people, it wasn't like the docs who know people are abusing the drugs he is prescribing......He was providing MMT to his patients. Even after he found out it was against the law, he said he couldn't "morally" stop treatment for 6 of his patients he was treating for addiction.

They need to leave the ones like this guy alone and go after the ones who are prescribing narcotics KNOWING they are being abused and prescribing anyway.


THE KENTON COUNTY CORONER BROKE METHADONE LAW

The Kenton County coroner, a respected family doctor and an elected official, lost his license to prescribe drugs for a year because, he says, he was following his conscience and writing forbidden prescriptions for methadone, a drug used to treat heroin and OxyContin addiction. Legally, family practitioners can write methadone prescriptions only for pain relief. Even when Dr. David Suetholz learned he was not allowed to prescribe methadone for his drug-addicted patients, though, he continued to prescribe the drug for some of them.

During a Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure inquiry last year, Suetholz told the board in a written response that his conscience would not allow him to do otherwise because he thought the addicts would go back on the street using drugs.

"I will admit I have been prescribing methadone for pain and narcotic addiction the past few years. Not until March of 2001 was I fully aware of the DEA ( Drug Enforcement Administration ) regulations limiting the use of methadone by primary care physicians, -- " Suetholz wrote in records filed with the licensing agency last August. "Enclosed are the names of the individuals I had seen in April of 2001 and their dates of discontinuations. The individuals' names filed in the ( medical licensure board ) complaint -- are patients ( to whom ) I could not morally discontinue treatment."

That's when the board suspended his prescribing privileges, which were just restored July 24.

So, Suetholz, a member of the Summit Medical Group based in Taylor Mill and the Kenton County coroner for 12 years, has paid the price for his decision to violate federal narcotics laws. Neither prescribing privileges nor a medical license or degree are required to be elected or perform coroner duties in Kentucky.

The physician, a University of Louisville med school graduate who has had no other disciplinary actions in 28 years of practice, says he did it because local addicts had nowhere else to turn. The closest methadone clinics -- at least 30 miles away -- are in Lexington, Dayton, Ohio, or Lawrenceburg, Ind.

Further, as coroner, he's seen the bodies of the young people who remain addicted on the street and overdose.

According to the documents on file with the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure, Seutholz wrote prescriptions for 36 addicts. The board, tipped by a grievance filed by the boyfriend of one of the patients, told him to stop. He did stop for some of the patients -- mostly young people who came to him because they could not or would not go to a methadone treatment center.

Some, though, told him they would go back on the street if they could not receive methadone treatment through him. Suetholz continued to write prescriptions for and monitor the treatment of those 6 patients.

The Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure confirmed the case, but its attorney available to comment on it was out of town this week.

Suetholz said in an interview that he felt the patients for whom he continued to write prescriptions were incapable of treating their addictions any other way and that he feared they would return to abusing drugs.

The grievance filed with the state by the patient's friend stated that Suetholz continued prescribing methadone to treat the woman's addiction even though the friend said she was selling the methadone on the street to buy other drugs.

In the middle of a wave of heroin overdose deaths in Northern Kentucky last winter, Suetholz discussed the area's heroin problem in an interview with The Post. He did not, at that time, discuss that the medical licensure board had penalized him for treating addicts with methadone.

He did, however, detail his frustration with what he described as a lack of treatment options for those addicted to heroin and other similar drugs.

Not only had Suetholz investigated some of those drug-overdose deaths in his role as Kenton County coroner, he said he had numerous patients who had sought help with their addictions through his office.

"The problem is how do you treat drug addiction? You're not allowed to ( treat it ) as a primary-care physician -- with any medication like methadone," Suetholz said in last winter's interview.

"The problem here is that there are not enough quality places for people to go to treat addiction. -- I have seen people with addiction who come to my office seeking help, and there is no place to send them. -- And if there is a place to send them, they very often can't afford to go there anyway."

Suetholz has paid and continues to pay a price for violating the law in what he says was the interest of his patients. Clearly, though, he feels physicians and patients would benefit if more treatment options were available to doctors in private practice.

"Who's really going to talk to you about ( drug addiction ) if they know you can't do anything about it," Suetholz said.

"If you have a venereal disease, you go to the doctor because you know he can help. -- But why talk to your doctor about this if he can't help you?"

When the licensure board restored Suet-holz's prescribing privileges July 24, it placed a handful of stipulations on his future prescribing practices, including requiring a pain management specialist's written instructions for any prescription he writes for methadone to manage pain. He also must follow stringent record-keeping requirements on certain prescriptions he writes.

Suetholz said that, though the 11-month prescription-writing ban did not severely affect his practice since his medical partners were able to write prescriptions for his patients, the whole ordeal over the past two years has taken its toll.

But with the DEA now examining prescriptions he writes for most painkillers, he has some newfound hesitancies about his practice, he said. For instance, though he is one of the few local physicians recently trained to prescribe the new opiate-addiction treatment drug buprenorphine, he is hesitant actually to begin treating addicts.

"I don't know if I want to mess with it now," Suetholz said. "A lot of doctors don't want to mess with it. They go to the ( buprenorphine certification training ) meeting, but they don't apply for the waiver because of the hassles involved."

In late 2001, a National Institutes of Health panel recommended that the federal government ease regulations that prohibited primary care doctors from prescribing methadone for treatment of addiction in order to expand availability of treatment.

The practice is currently used in Europe with success, according to the NIH, and a six-month-long trial conducted by Yale School of Medicine researchers concluded that physician-administered treatment could be successful here.

"We know of no other area of medicine where the federal government intrudes so deeply and coercively into the practice of medicine," said Dr. Lewis Judd, chairman of the NIH panel, according to the professional journal Psychiatric News.

Some say there is a good reason why primary care physicians should not be handed unqualified rights to treat addicts with methadone or any other drug: They may not understand the games addicts play.

"Even though they are trained physicians who know their patients, they are not trained in addictionology, and they can get manipulated fairly easily," said Dr. Earl Siegel, director of the Drug and Poison Information Center at Children's Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati.

"Addicts are notorious for being manipulative in many different areas and making up stories to obtain drugs -- feigning illnesses, reading the medical journals to obtain drugs. -- So there's the concern in giving every primary care physician the power to treat addicts -- because of manipulation."


MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin

http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v03/n1217/a02.html

Copyright: 2003 Kentucky Post
Contact:
kyedits@cincypost.com


RuthAnn


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Last edited by Admin on Fri Aug 14, 2009 4:13 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Justify)
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PostSubject: Re: Kenton County Coroner Broke Methadone Law by treating MMT pts in private practice   Fri Aug 07, 2009 1:28 am

This man is a saint and our screwed up system can't even see this. He should be applauded for his efforts in the fight against illegal drugs and helping addicts get clean. What a super society we live in - I mean that faceitiously!
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Kenton County Coroner Broke Methadone Law by treating MMT pts in private practice

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