Includes Expert Content
Being labeled as a drug seeker?
ambie22588 posted:
Oh Im so frustrated that I have no idea what to do anymore. I know this is long but I really need some help. Im a 22 year old female. Since March 2010, Ive been in and out of pain. I have been diagnosed with pancreatitis. I was hospitalized for 2 1/2 weeks at a local hospital and then transferred to a bigger hospital by ambulance at the end of March. I had an ERCP. It showed VERY high pressures in my pancreas bile ducts. The Dr did a sphincterotomy, kept me in the hospital for 2 more days and sent me home. A day later I ended up back in the hospital for non stop vomiting and horrible pain. After another 2 weeks in the hospital I was sent home on a duragesic patch and I was doing ok. I still had breakthrough pain but nothing I couldnt handle. Well my GI specialist decided to order an Endoscopic Ultrasound. I had that done on July 29th 2010. They sent me home with a diagnoses of Chronic Pancreatitis. I came home and went straight to sleep. The Dr was very rough with me while doing the procedure. I had my lips busted in several spots. I had blood blisters on the back of my throat.
Friday morning I woke up in extreme pain. I vomited most the day so that evening while my hubby was at work I had my mother in law take me to the ER where I had the procedure at. My labs came back fine, as well as the xray and they send me home. Saturday morning at 4am Im still vomiting. Pain has intensified so I have my hubby take me back to the ER. He is tired and didnt think he could stay awake to take me downtown to the bigger hospital so we went to the more local one. They did repeat blood work, Iv fluids and sent me home. I did fine for a few hours, hubby goes back to work and I start feeling horrible. I start vomiting BLOOD. He immediately comes home and takes me to the hospital downtown. They did rectal exam and gave me pain control. Everything again came back fine. Sunday at 5pm Im still vomiting. NOTHING has stayed down since Thursday. Since my husband cant get off work, I call a friend to take me to the hospital. She wasnt comfortable driving downtown so we went to a hospital closer to her house. They did more blood work which showed my pancreas levels were low but other than that everything was ok. They sent me home. I stay at her house, then at 3am(monday) we return to that same hospital. I was feeling very faint and very unwell. This time they did more blood work and a CT scan and sent me home. Monday at 6pm we call the Dr on call for my GI specialist. He advised me to go to the NEAREST ER. So we go to a hospital that is nearest to us. We hadnt been there before. I tell the triage nurse about whats going on and she takes me back to a room immediately. My bp was also up (153/102) She didnt write in the chart all of my ER visits. The Dr comes in and is very hateful to me, doesnt examine me, gives me a shot of nausea meds and tells me thats all hes doing and lectures me for going to so many ERs in such little time. He advised me to go back to the ER at Downtown. We arrive there and they put me in the hallway bed. The Dr asked about ER visits and Im very truthful. He said he wasnt going to do anything for me. Does this mean Iam in the system as a "drug seeker?" He flat out told me he wasnt going to give me any narcotics and I said thats fine. I dont want any narcotics I want to know what is wrong!
If Im on the list at all the local hospitals as a drug seeker, how do I go about getting my name off the list? Im in genuine pain. My condition has been confirmed. My pancreas is scarred and doesnt look normal for my age. Im seriously to the point that I do not even want to live anymore because I cannot get pain relief and no Dr is willing to help. PLEASE give me some advice!
David Maine, MD responded:
Ambie - I am sorry to hear things have been such a struggle. Chronic pancreatitis is an incredibly painfull condition. What is the cause of the pancreatitis (unknown, alcohol, high triglycerides?). I would reccomend you go to a GI specialist who has a clincal focus on pancreatic disease. I would also reccomend seeing a dedicated pain specialist who can work in concert with your GI doc. Try not to loose hope. Your diagnosis is fairly new and once you establish a good long term plan I think things will become more manageable. Good luck.
ambie22588 replied to David Maine, MD's response:
The Doctors arent sure what has caused the pancreatitis. I have never had any alcoholic beverage in my life so I know its not that. I do know that my Grandma had pancreatitis several times during her life and then was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died a few weeks after. The Doctor that did the endoscopic ultrasound said that he thinks scar tissue wrapping around my pancreas could be causing it to act up. I was supposed to have a pain block during the procedure however the Dr over looked the order that my GI Dr had written so it was not done. I know my mistake was going to several ERs in such a short amount of time but I could not help it. It was out of my control. If Im flagged as a drug seeker will a pain specialist still see me? Would having my GI Dr contact the ER about my pain get my name unflagged?
TDXSP08 replied to ambie22588's response:
If you have gotten any Kind of "Reputation" from Multi Medical Facility Visits NO ONE IS GOING TO TELL YOU THAT TO YOUR FACE!, also anyone who seeks to Change a "reputation" wether unjustly earned or not is a patient who knows to much and that it going to provide further evidence in their minds that any "reputation" is in fact well Earned---------So be smart Find a good Dr. and stay with them and use them for the bulk of your treatment and let the Hospital rumor mills fade away as legends in there own mind. Simply your job is to get the best Medical care you can, irregardless of who is telling tales about you behind your back.

annette030 replied to ambie22588's response:
I really feel for you, pancreatitis is a horrible disease, very painful and difficult to treat.

I would not worry about your name being flagged anywhere. Do as the good doctor suggests and find a GI doctor skilled in dealing with pancreatitis, and a good pain management doctor. Of course, if you are in pain, vomiting non-stop, and becoming dehydrated you need to go to an ER. However, if you get yourself in a good pain management program, you should be able to work out a program where as long as you aren't vomiting you can manage your pain at home.

Anytime you do need to go to the ER, make sure your GI doc is on staff there and is willing to come in and see you. I would personally pick one ER to go to, just so all my records are there, and the ER staff can get to know me personally.

I totally understand the reasons you went to different ERs during this episode, but your health needs might be better met by just one ER taking care of you. Not all doctors are on staff at multiple facilities, it would be great if you found one, but I would not use that as my basis for choosing him.

My doctor is not on staff at the local hospital as she moved her office to a nearby town and is on staff at that hospital. She and I have a plan should I ever need to be in the ER or an inpatient at the hospital near me. They have hospitalists on staff there, and my doctor would discuss my case with them, and they would take care of me. Hospitalists are fairly new in our area, they are on duty for set shifts and take care of the inpatients, so one is always in the hospital.

In my experience all hospitals are different, and if you have more than one available to you, it might be a good idea to figure it all out ahead of time when you are feeling well, so you have a game plan for when you are ill.

Take care, Annette
David Maine, MD replied to ambie22588's response:
Ambie - Try not to focus on the ER issue and rather try to find a good doctor you trust. Undoubtedly there will be bumps along the road but I think once you find a specialist who will look at the issue as a whole a multimodal plan can be put in place to give you some lasting relief. Do not lose hope. Good luck.
meaningfulc1952 responded:
Hi Ambie, I can totally believe how these drs. are treating you too. I have had tension/migraine and severe jaw pain ever since the 1970's, and every dr. I went to labelled me as a drug seeker. When I finally found a pain management dr. my pain improved dramatically. If there is a reason for having surgery, and you really know why, then I would recommend that, but also get a 2nd opinion or more. You never know what the outcome might be. I now have a wonderful pain dr. and he treats me w/respect and kindness and also prescribes the adequate pain meds that I need in order to have some quality of life now. I have been fighting w/these problems since 30 yrs. now. Good Luck, Connie
Geradine4733 responded:
You have been given good advice. You must go through the right medical channels to get to the point where you are believed. It is good that you are starting with the specialist who can help you find out the exact cause of your pain.

After that he can make a diagnosis and help you and help your pain. The ER is not equipped to do much but help you at that moment until you can see a specialist to help you.

Best wishes that you get the treatment you deserve.