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New York City to Restrict Prescription Painkillers in Public Hospitalsí Emergency Rooms
5 years ago

By ANEMONA HARTOCOLLIS, January 10, 2013

Some of the most common and most powerful prescription painkillers on the market will be restricted sharply in the emergency rooms at New York City’s 11 public hospitals, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said Thursday in an effort to crack down on what he called a citywide and national epidemic of prescription drug abuse.

Under thenew citypolicy, most public hospital patients will no longer be able to get more than three days’ worth of narcotic painkillers like Vicodin and Percocet. Long-acting painkillers, including OxyContin, a familiar remedy for chronic backache and arthritis, as well as Fentanyl patches and methadone, will not be dispensed at all. And lost, stolen or destroyed prescriptions will not be refilled.

City officials said the policy was aimed at reducing the growing dependency on painkillers and preventing excess amounts of drugs from being taken out of medicine chests and sold on the street or abused by teenagers and others who want to get high.

“Abuse of prescription painkillers in our city has increased alarmingly,” Mr. Bloomberg said in announcing the new policy atElmhurstHospitalCenter, a public hospital inQueens. Over 250,000 New Yorkers over age 12 are abusing prescription painkillers, he said, leading to rising hospital admissions for overdoses and deaths, Medicare fraud by doctors who write false prescriptions and violent crime like “holdups at neighborhood pharmacies.”

But some critics said that poor and uninsured patients sometimes used the emergency room as their primary source of medical care. The restrictions, they said, could deprive doctors in the public hospital system — whose mission it is to treat poor people — of the flexibility that they need to respond to patients.

“Here is my problem with legislative medicine,” said Dr. Alex Rosenau, president-elect of the AmericanCollegeofEmergency Physiciansand senior vice chairman of emergency medicine at Lehigh Valley Health Network inEastern Pennsylvania. “It prevents me from being a professional and using my judgment.”

While someone could fake a toothache to get painkillers, he said, another patient might have legitimate pain and not be able to get an appointment at a dental clinic for days. Or, he said, a patient with a hand injury may need more than three days of pain relief until the swelling goes down and an operation could be scheduled.

Dr. Rosenau said that the college of emergency physicians had not developed an official position on the prescribing of painkillers in emergency rooms and that he appreciated Mr. Bloomberg’s activism in the face of a serious public health problem. But he said pain clinics in states likeFloridaandCalifornia, states where prescription drug abuse is rampant, as well as the household medicine cabinet, were probably a more common source of unneeded painkillers than emergency rooms.

City health officials said the guidelines would not apply to patients who need prescriptions for cancer pain or palliative care, and drugs would still be available outside the emergency room. They said that in this era of patient-satisfaction surveys, doctors were often afraid to make patients unhappy by refusing drugs when they are requested, and the rules would give those doctors some support when they suspected that a patient might be faking pain to get drugs.

“There will be no chance that the patients who need pain relief will not get pain relief,” said Dr. Ross Wilson, senior vice president and chief medical officer of the Health and Hospitals Corporation, which runs the city’s public hospitals.

Similar rules have been adopted inWashingtonStateandUtah. Dr. Thomas A. Farley, the city’s health commissioner, said opioid painkillers were not much different from highly addictive and more taboo street drugs like heroin. He called them “heroin in pill form.”

More than two million prescriptions for opioid painkillers are written in New York City each year, the equivalent of a quarter of the city’s population, Dr. Farley said, and about 40,000 New Yorkers are already dependent on painkillers and need treatment. Painkillers were involved in 173 accidental overdose deaths inNew York Cityin 2010, a 30 percent rise from five years earlier.

Officials could not say how many prescriptions were written at emergency rooms. Libby Holman, a spokeswoman for Purdue Pharma, which manufactures OxyContin, declined to comment.

Dr. Farley said the city lacked the regulatory authority to impose the new guidelines on its 50 or so private hospitals. But several private hospitals, includingNYULangoneMedicalCenterinManhattanandMaimonidesMedicalCenterinBrooklyn, said they would adopt them voluntarily.

Dr. Hillary Cohen, medical director of emergency medicine at Maimonides, said that even now, OxyContin was rarely prescribed in the emergency room.

Big Brother cares about you!
5 years ago

5 years ago

Mike Bloomberg, Health Cop: New Yorkers Hate Big-Gulp Ban, Baby Formula Hide-And-Seek
5 years ago

By James KingThu., Aug. 16 2012  


Mayor Mike Bloomberg's nanny-state has taken a turn for the absurd with his plans to limit how much soda New Yorkers are allowed to drink and to hide baby formula from new mothers -- and voters seem to think it's just as ridiculous as we do.

A new poll shows that the vast majority of New York voters disagree with Bloomberg's "Big-Gulp" ban, and even fewer support his plan to "encourage" new mothers to breast feed by hiding baby formula at City hospitals.

According to the poll, conducted by Quinnipiac University, Bloomberg's baby-formula bullying has the support of 24 percent of voters. That's compared to 56 percent who oppose the plan.

As for the soda ban, Bloomberg's bossiness continues to lose support.

The poll shows that 54 percent of voters oppose Bloomberg's soda bullying, while 42 percent support it. That's compared to a June poll that showed the mayor was losing his war on soda 51-46 percent.

If you're not familiar with the mayor's plan for your boobies, here's the gist: Starting September 3, the city will encourage hospitals to hide baby formula behind locked doors in an effort to encourage (trick) new mothers into breast feeding.

Under the city Health Department's "Latch On NYC" initiative, 27 of New York's 40 hospitals also will agree to get rid of promotional nicknacks -- like bags, mugs and other items the baby industry gives the mothers of newborns -- that display the logos of baby formula companies.

Additionally, hospitals that participate in the mayor's breast bullying will be forced to document the medical reason for every bottle of formula a baby receives.

New mothers won't be denied formula, but they'll have to specifically ask for it. Should they ask for it, the mother will be required to receive a stern talking-to from hospital staff about how much better breast-feeding is than giving a baby formula.

The move is the latest in Bloomberg's over-reaching health initiative (read: insulting attempts to protect you from yourself).

In recent months, the mayor has banned food donations to homeless shelters because the city is unable to monitor the sodium content of the donated food. He also proposed a ban on sugary drinks like soda being served in containers larger than 16 ounces. It also seems as though the mayor's health cops have booze in their sights, but no modern-day prohibition has been implemented...yet.

Note: while the vast majority of New York voters seem to think the mayor's playing health cop is bullshit, it doesn't matter to Hizzoner; he's in his final term as mayor, and can essentially do whatever he wants without fear of getting voted out of office -- which is terrifying.

5 years ago

Sandy -- I am LMAO at this article.  Isn't it amazing that this POS was elected in the first place.  I continue to be amazed at the voters in this country.  Indeed, insulting attempts to protect you from yourself.  And, playing health cop -- oh well, election time is coming for the New Yorkers and, I'm sure they will elect someone equally as annoying and absurd as Bloomberg!


Are there no decent people left who are politicians!   And aren't there any decent, intelligent voters left out there!

5 years ago

Tara Jane, it's an epidemic in America.    These are so funny, Sandy.

5 years ago

I liked Rudy Giuliani, then Bloomberg ran after him as a pseudo-Republican (was a Democrat previously). Bloomberg decided he kinda liked being mayor & after being elected somehow to a second term, he sought to extend the city's term limits law & run for a third term as an Independent.


Apparently there are intelligent voters in NYC, just not enough to prevent Bloomberg from becoming mayor.  I wonder how the people who voted for him feel about him now?   NYC is full of Democrats so I'm positive that they'll vote for another "fine, upstanding" individual.   They once voted for Giuliani, so maybe they'll have smartened up & will vote for a similar kind of person.  Not that Giuliani was perfect mind you.


"Are there no decent people left who are politicians!"  They are there I believe, but few & far between especially if there is a (D) after their name.

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