With the opioid crisis in full swing, people are quick to blame physicians for the escalating opioid abuse. In response to this blame, physicians started curtailing opioid prescriptions, and changing other behaviors as well. Unfortunately, the effects of opioid addiction are strong and when addicts come in asking for more drugs, doctors face threats, attacks, verbal abuse and more.
A physician recently raised this topic among peers, asking, “have you ever been physically threatened for refusing to prescribe or refill pain medication?”
Many doctors shared disturbing encounters they have faced:
“Not only have I been threatened but have had items broken and destroyed by angry patients. Since working with addicts we find the need to call the police regularly.” – Family Medicine
“I had a patient threaten me for fentanyl patches. I said no. He then left the office, drove to Walmart pharmacy and held them up at gun point.” – Internal Medicine
“Many times at the VA. I moved the desks around in my exam rooms so I was closest to the door. When I felt threatened I yanked open the door. If his veins were still throbbing on his neck or forehead, I exited. I also had the VA Police chaperone me to the parking lot at night.’ – Family Medicine
“I refused narcs in the ER once…. a golden glove boxer hit me in the jaw, breaking several teeth and knocking me out cold. (Somewhat counterproductive as it is hard to write when unconscious). Teeth are still crooked. I keep my distance and like stated above, I’m always between the patient and the door now….” – Orthopedic Surgery
“I get inpatients sent to my unit for ‘dangerousness’ regularly because they threatened the primary doc for not prescribing opiates after they failed their contracts. Then they threaten me.” – Psychiatry
“We had a guy threaten our clinic with mass shooting last week for not getting opioids.”– Orthopedic Surgery
“My partner had a patient who was a frequent flyer in the ER for headache pain. Always demanded opiates. Her father threatened to report me to the state medical board for refusing to give her Demerol.” – Neurology
“I have had increasing confrontations about not either giving/starting, or refusing to continue benzos, especially Xanax. They are the next target for the DEA and feds anyway, but what is more concerning is the people I see who ask for them, are frequently belligerent, who are typically on opiates as well.” – Pediatrics
“Every Friday the methadone clinic would hand out the weekends quota of meds as they were closed. Of course, the methadone was promptly either sold or swallowed and Friday. Saturday and Sunday there was a steady stream of addicts demanding more narcotics. You sat in your little office taking the abuse and periodically (like once a shift) being threatened with violence, sometimes very demonstratively.” – Gastroenterology
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