County eyeing pain clinic ban
by IVY BRASHEAR Staff Reporter
HAZARD After the recent ban placed on certain pain management clinics in Knott County, the Perry County Fiscal Court could make similar changes in Perry County.
Judge-Executive Denny Ray Noble said he has spoken with the countys magistrates and the Kentucky State Police Post Captain, Scott Miller, and they have all discussed a ban on certain pain management clinics in the county.
Noble said a ban in Perry County was considered after he spoke with Knott County Judge-Executive Randy Thompson about Knott Countys recently enacted measure.
It needs to be done (here), Noble said, adding that he is 90 percent sure a similar ban could pass through the fiscal court and be enacted in the county.
The Knott County ordinance in part targets clinics that have a disproportionate number of patients receiving pain medication as opposed to other medical services, and those that receive much of their revenue in cash. The ordinance calls for a $5,000 fine each day a banned clinic remains in operation.
Judge Noble said he isnt against people that actually need help through pain management clinics, of which he said there are a lot. However, he said abuse of the system is occurring, stating that many times someone will receive a prescription for pain medication and later sell the pills.
An eastern Kentucky pain management clinic operator who wished for his identity to remain confidential for the purposes of this story said he was frustrated with the bad reputation placed upon pain clinics. A ban on these clinics will not help the problem of drug abuse in the area, he said.
Pain management is not the problem, he said. Not every pain management clinic is bad.
He said his clinic is accredited by a medical board and that most of their patients are referred by a physician. Before his clinic accepts a new patient, he said they must complete a rigorous series of steps and background checks.
A background check is performed and court dockets are searched to look for DUI charges. He said if DUI charges are found, that person will not be accepted to the clinic for treatment. He also said patients are interviewed and screened using a computer database which tracks what prescriptions theyve recently filled.
To be a patient here, you have to go through a lot, he said. We exhaust every means we have at our fingertips (to check up on possible patients).
He said that out of every 10 new referrals they check on, only about two will make it into their program and no one with acute pain problems are seen.
Most of the patients seen at this clinic are working people, he said miners, older people and people who have been involved in accidents that leave them with chronic pain and little ability to function as they once did. No one is allowed to walk in off the street and be seen, he said.
He maintained that his clinic helps many people with chronic pain that would otherwise not be able to normally function, and said he is very frustrated with always seeing, and having to deal with, negative media coverage about pain clinics.
It gets so old seeing it get beat up all the time, he said.
He said even if pain clinics are banned in Perry County, it wont help fix the drug problem because primary care physicians and family doctors will still prescribe people pain medication regardless of the fact that many of those doctors are not accredited to deal with managing a patients chronic pain.
Pain is a symptom not a diagnosis, he said. The problem is so much more than just removing pain clinics.
Judge Noble also expressed concern that banning pain clinics in Perry County would not end the problem of drug abuse in the area. He said it would take more than just this measure.
(Banning pain clinics) will help (the problem) some; but not a whole lot. Noble said.
He said the fiscal court hopes to make a decision about a pain management clinic ban in Perry County during the next court meeting later this month
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