Tuesday, January 13, 2009

New Low

The other day I confronted a woman who was seeking pain meds. The medical student saw her first and there were a few things during her presentation that just screamed that this lady was going to be trouble:

1. Abdominal pain x 1 year
2. Recent month-long admission with no diagnosis
3. Multiple abdominal surgeries
4. Allergic to morphine, "Only Dilaudid works"
5. "I need a PICC line, no one can ever get an IV on me."

At first I felt mildy guilty for being cynical, but as the case unfolded, it turned out she had lied to us during the interview. When I had asked if she could be pregnant, she said, "No." When I told her that she was, she said, "Oh yeah, the hospital yesterday said that, too." Her pain had been coming and going for about a year, so there wasn't anything to do emergently besides some basic labs and physical exam.


We got ready to discharge her and she asked for pain meds. As it turned out, she already had a prescription for narcotics from another hospital, but it wasn't very pregnancy-friendly. I don't like talking down to people, but in this case I told her that the only way I would give her a prescription for a pain medicine was if she gave me her other one to destroy. So we traded prescriptions. Let's just hope she doesn't call the other hospital up saying she "lost" their prescription. In the meantime, I've sent a nasty-gram to her primary physician. I will still probably end up with a letter from the Board of Health in a few months letting me know she got multiple prescriptions from different providers, but at least she left my department with a prescription for a safer drug.

Just before discharge, I looked her up in our computer system, and the only thing listed was a previous admission for what turned out to be pseudoseizures and there was a mention of "drug-seeking behavior". When we confronted her, she didn't deny seeking pain meds, but now I wonder if I didn't miss the real diagnosis.

1 comment:

ru said...

I've always wondered how that saying "It takes all kinds . . ." applies to situations such as these.