Drug abuse is one of the most important public health issues in Kentucky. It affects employers looking for good employees; it can lead to crime as addicts seek drugs to feed their addiction; and, most importantly, it can destroy families, friendships and lives.
A new law regarding prescription drug abuse was passed by the legislature earlier this year. Some have referred to the new law as the “pill mill bill.” While the law does target illegal “pill mills” in the state — a move that was vital to the public safety of all Kentuckians — the new law also requires physicians and other practitioners who prescribe specific drugs to perform additional administrative tasks.
If it takes longer for your physician to prescribe drugs for you or a family member than it has in the past, please be patient and understand that the new law requires that these steps be taken. Hospitals, emergency rooms, physician clinics and long-term care facilities are all impacted by the law.
Besides the mandates of the new law, government agencies are devising administrative requirements that must be met prior to a physician prescribing certain drugs. Various groups, including the Kentucky Medical Association, have tried to work with these agencies in an effort to keep disruptions to patient care to a minimum.
KMA, however, was singled out recently by the Louisville Courier-Journal in a bizarre editorial that accused the association, which represents hard working physicians across the commonwealth, of essentially killing people by trying to make this new bureaucratic burden acceptable to patients.
The Courier also said it did not understand why a physician would be “baffled by a couple dozen pages of bureaucratic regulations.” A couple dozen pages of bureaucratic regulations!
Such thinking is typical of those who see no problem with stacks of paper standing between patients and their physicians. Patients do not want to be treated by bureaucrats in white coats, lawyers in white coats, or reporters in white coats. They want to be treated by physicians who are free to exercise their clinical judgment. That is what we will continue to support for all Kentuckians, no matter what outrageous insults might be thrown our way.
Shawn Jones, M.D., President,
Kentucky Medical Association