Monday, December 15, 2014


After pain-control practice closes abruptly, Allen County health-care workers cooperate to help patients

Friday, December 12, 2014 - 12:38 pm
Allen County health-care workers are cooperating to provide timely help to patients left in the lurch by the closing of a troubled pain-control practice, the Allen County health commissioner announced Friday.
Dr. William Hedrick, who operated nine clinics in northeast Indiana under the name Indiana Pain Centers (previously the Centers for Pain Relief), discontinued his practice at all locations effective Nov. 21. Since that time, many of these former patients have been unable to get an appointment with a family physician or other pain specialist to have pain medicine prescriptions filled, according to the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health.
"Unfortunately for everyone involved, this is a significant medical and public health issue for our community," says Allen County Health Commissioner Dr. Deborah McMahan said in a new release announcing the move. "Local pain specialists are trying to work new patients in as best as possible, but the majority of these patients will need to be seen by their primary care doctor before they can be referred to a pain specialist."
Indiana's new chronic pain prescribing rules require physicians to do an evaluation of their patients, including assessing their mental-health status and risk for substance abuse using available screening tools. Patients on pain medication regimens also have to be seen at least once every four months. When medically necessary, urine drug monitoring is also required.
McMahan met with local providers last week to coordinate a multi-disciplinary response to the issue. A toolkit sent out today calls for primary care physicians, working with pain specialists and mental health professionals, to assess patients for various pain treatment options, including medical interventions, surgery, psychological care, and prescription drug therapy where medically appropriate.
It includes guidance for physicians in the evaluation and treatment of chronic pain patients, the prescribing of opioid controlled substances for pain management, and resources and referral information for addiction and dependency issues.
"We know that not all these patients are going to be able to get an appointment with a doctor before their prescriptions run out," McMahan said in the release. "So some physicians, ER departments and urgent-care clinics may need to fill a patient's prescriptions on a short term basis until these appointments can be scheduled.
"We are asking for a little patience and grace from everyone affected while our medical practices try to accommodate this surge of patients."

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