I got the freedom-of-information notes from the pain clinic who was treating me and ultimately cancelled my treatment and accused me of doctor shopping. There was a lot of paper work but I managed to sort through it to find what was more important.
There is a paper stating exactly what drug, how many mg, the number of doctors who prescribed it to me, the number of 'items' and the pack size and total quantity of medication eg tablets of each drug dispensed to me.
The numbers are astounding. Firstly it's over a 2.5 month period. Valium 5mg was 350 tablets! 4 doctors! 7 packets. Panadeine forte was 380 tablets! 3 doctors and 6 packets of 20. I know it doesn't make sense but they state at the bottom of the page that the pack size x the number of packets does not necessarily equal the total amount because of authority scripts (like I got 120 panadeine forte at once, at least once) and because of 'less than pack size supplies' (like they give you 6 out of a pack of 20).
Anyway I have written to someone who can investigate this further, to see which doctors were seen, to identify whether I was justified in visiting several doctors from the same practice, which is partly what I am being treated this way for. They do not care whether it is the same practice or you are completely disclosing all information necessary to each new doctor, or whether the medication is for contraception or anti-inflammation or anti-seizure; it all adds up!
The prescription shopping program criteria is: within a 3 month period, the patient has had supplied to them a total of 25 or more 'target items' or a total of 50 or more PBS items; from 6 or more different prescribers. Target items are analgesics, seizure medication (for nerve pain), anti-depressants. PBS items are what you can get a subsidy from the government for; like you pay less for the medication at the pharmacy.
They specify that the total number of doctors may include doctors located in the same practice. Who knew about that? Not me.
So I certainly seem to meet the criteria, because over 2.5 months I saw 12 doctors, had 33 'target items'(33 scripts for target item medications; not 33 different medications I sought), and 7 more that are PBS items only, and from 16 different medications (including oxycodone hydrochloride 5mg as separate from oxycodone hydrochloride 10mg slow release and oxycodone hydrochloride 10mg capsules separate as well). I am disputing that my contraception, anti-inflammatories and anti-depressants and anti-epileptics were counted on this list because they are not opiate medication and I wasn't informed that my receiving them from different doctors would harm me in the future.
I am also currently going through my paperwork I now have, and highlighting written evidence that proves that I was being honest about which doctors were also treating me and their contact details, what drugs I needed at what dose and why.
You see, what happened, I can now see, is when I hurt my back I realised I needed to see one doctor only so I did. I have evidence of that. I was being over-sedated and my physicians were all trying to revise my treatment plan to keep me medicated but not so sedated. Then I was evicted (for no reason) and had to move to where I am now. I wasn't told, but meanwhile, the pain clinic were having meetings amongst themselves and with the health department, and had decided to cancel my receiving oxycodone or any other opiate medication; and had also cancelled my treatment at the clinic. I had an appointment I thought was a regular appointment, I rocked up to it but realised when I got there and there was nobody around and all the lights were off, in the pain clinic; I thought "Oh! I must've got the appointment date mixed up! They're not open on Fridays!" and I had gone home. They apparently were going to inform me of what was going on and that I was no longer welcome there. They made no attempt to inform me via telephone, mail, through my local doctors' surgery. None whatsoever.
So when I went to this local doctors' and saw the first doctor, and they said no to my asking for opiates, I went back to my old doctor who I'd seen (99%) exclusively for the previous year, and he medicated me on the drugs I was currently addicted to and currently requiring for pain relief. I went back to the local doctors' to a new one, asking for opiates, all the way explaining the entire situation (the move, the pain clinic appointment I missed, the previous doctor who was exclusively treating me, the medication I needed, the history - everything); and they denied me. So I kept going back and seeing new doctors, successful twice with one script for panadeine forte - 120 tablets and one script for valium and one script for oxycodone - over the entire 2.5 months in question...and unsuccessful numerous times. I was trying to find a new family doctor I trusted and could build a rapport with, and I think you can probably see now, there was a major misunderstanding concerning my case.
I wasn't dishonest - I have evidence. I wasn't mis-using medication to get high - I have evidence of that too. I wasn't obtaining the large amount of drugs suggested in the paperwork explaining why I was listed as a prescription shopper. There could have been information recorded incorrectly, or transferred from one copy to another incorrectly; there could have been a simple misunderstanding considering my moving house and needing to find a new family doctor. Hopefully it will be found and one day sorted out, perhaps my name may even be cleared of any wrongdoing.
I have an appointment with a lawyer on Thursday (2 days away) to go over my case and see if I can fix it and how I can do that.
All I want is to finally have this resolved, I see it resolving in my favor, I can visualise the end of all this and my complete relief at being able to finally see my local doctor and not be treated like a criminal; and being able to present with severe pain and not be turned away with panadol but being treated humanely. I don't want to be over-sedated or medicated on a daily basis with opiate medication; I don't want it to get high. I want to have the appropriate medication given to me in appropriate controlled ways to avoid addiction recurrence, at the same time as managing my pain.
I see myself looking back at all these days with sadness that so much time of my life was lost to being depressed, angry, frustrated, and in such severe pain at times; when it could have been different if someone somewhere didn't mis-manage my case.
I hope it all works out for you. Sounds like you went to alot of doctors and got alot of meds. I find that usually it is the doctor's office that makes you see the different doctors. I know from my experience that each time you see a new doctor they try to give you something else that they think will work better. Then in the end you have a bunch of prescriptions. I had so many prescriptions where I took a week and then a doctor changed. So much wasted meds. The pharmacy can't take them back. So they are all under your name. I had my insurance send me a letter once to verify I received so many meds. Guess they thought the pharmacy was trying to get one over them. But I got them all. Eventually they all went in the garbage.
After my back surgery I got all sorts of narcotics etc. I think the difference with me is I only saw the Neurosurgeon and my physical therapy doctor. When I went to pain management I signed a contract with them and they gave me my meds. Even though I was still seeing my therapy doctor, he did not prescribe to me. Went I left pain management I even sent them a letter telling them I was not coming back and I would get my meds monitored by my therapy doctor.
Please keep us updated. Good luck with the lawyer etc.
i just don't understand how someone can prescribe me so much medication and then turn around less than a month later and report me for doctor shopping! i wasn't able to pick up my scripts from the pain clinic, that was never arranged. otherwise i would've just done that. i know others do because they explain the rules on picking up repeat scripts over and over again.
so i had to pick up the medication from my doctor, who was my primary GP; and i only ever saw one other doctor at that practice if my doctor was sick...and this all came about from moving house and a lack of communication and a whole pile of misunderstanding of the situation, and a lot of 'chinese whispers' translation problems as information was passed between the pain clinic, my old practice and my new one and the health department. if i had just stayed at the old house none of this would've happened and i would still have the right to be medicated for the more severe pain i get.
i am hoping so hard that this will all be over soon.
Hey SS, I hope your lawyers appointment goes well. I'm glad you got the notes, it sounds like it was the practice that was in the wrong, even to a dangerous degree, they should have reviewed your case properly.
I'm a bit upset at the moment, after having gone through the paperwork all day I have discovered a few things I didn't want to find as well as some things that may help me prove my case.
There's two letters written to the health department from my pain doctors and notes suggesting the head of the pain team was the one who ultimately called the prescription shoppers information team.
Also, and unfortunately, I had forgotten some of the things I had done. I'd OD'd twice, March and June 08; both times I presented at the emergency department voluntarily though, to say "perhaps I need to be monitored; and my pain is still uncontrolled despite taking more than I was prescribed". I know I would've done it because of the lack of support, because my pain was too much to bear and I took extra tablets in an effort to relieve it. But when it comes down to it, anything I say to explain myself just sounds like an excuse. Maybe I shouldn't ever be medicated. Maybe I am just a drug addict.
Then I think "No wait, I've got legitimate pain, they can't leave me like this"
Then I realise they already have.
The cyclic thought pattern is pointless and painful. I just wish I could go back in time and change things; or that they would give me another try. I've been told I can receive any medication I need, but first I have to find a doctor willing to prescribe me something.
One thing I found was that they have tried schedule 8 drugs on me in an uncontrolled setting and then a semi-controlled setting; yet they mention nothing about trying me in a completely controlled setting. I often dream of being admitted to hospital so they can medicate me.
I'm sorry that this is so hard on you, it's horrible to go back through your past, especially if it's an especially difficult time.
I don't know if you know this but you can have a medical examination done by doctors from Medicare/HIC. They have at times written to my gp to ask why I still take the meds I do, he writes back with the reasons. I asked him what would happen if they disagreed with him and he said that they would have me reviewed by one of their own doctors - you can also request this if you have been unfairly treated. If they believe that you need more or less med, they will impliment this, then, if you disagree, you can appeal.
thank you thank you thank you Juliet!
I saw the lawyer today and it was meant to be a 20 minute session for $25, and they could see I was distressed so they allowed me to pay after the session; and my lawyer saw me for 55 minutes! He said he couldn't do much as a lawyer, that perhaps when my immediate health problem was seen to then we could talk about possible compensation but to think of it as a slight possibility and not expect a large payout if it ever ended up happening.
He helped me to figure out what was going on, who I needed to see, who I needed backing me, what we needed to do. He tried to call his friend who has back problems to find out what he does since he's still on medication but the medication hardly works anymore. He suggested exercise and I said I'm all over that one already as exercise, physio and hydrotherapy are the three main treatment options I have. These are excellent and totally appropriate treatment options for my condition, don't get me wrong. I just need to know that on those days where the pain is severe, I can see a doctor locally and be medicated for my pain, appropriately, and under strict controls if need be (such as daily pick up but it would only be for one day most times, mostly the more severe pain doesn't go on and on).
He said that the doctors appear to have treated me wrongly, and that my evidence that they originally prescribed such medication and then did not prescribe it ongoing but instead allowed my old doctor at the 1st practice to get authorisation to prescribe it; proves that they expected me to keep picking up the medication regularly from him.
Also, it is not known by most of the general public that you can be found to be a prescription shopper simply by visiting whoever is available on the day at the same practice.
And he saw my paperwork that suggests that there may be 3 large errors, specifically a script for oxycodone 120 tablets printed twice on my medical records, and one for 20 panadeine forte; and there's a suspicious one too where apparently I saw two doctors at the same practice in one day (which doesn't make sense) and got the contraceptive pill off one, and then went back the next week to get the same contraceptive pill again??? Why would I do that? Perhaps I lost the first script but surely I wouldn't have. I know that every time when I was on the pill I would get at least 4 repeats on each script. It just doesn't make sense. Like getting two scripts for 120 oxycodone, or two scripts for 20 panadeine forte. Firstly you can't get 240 oxycodone on any authorisation script I know of, and secondly, if he wanted to give me 40 panadeine forte wouldn't he have written one script for 40 instead?
I may be able to prove error on their part, which is what I'm working on now. I have to see my old doctor on Saturday, which I've avoided doing until now because he is lovely and kind, and he'd feel bad if I asked him to do something he couldn't do. He knows how much I was suffering then and it bothered him a lot that he couldn't help. But I'll see him and see if he'll put in an application to the health department to have me removed from the drug and alcohol something or other registration under grounds of error. I'll take my evidence with me. If he won't or can't, I will ask him about seeing a medicare/HIC doctor on appeal basis. Otherwise, I will see if he will put in writing that no reasonable doctor should have prescribed me the list of medication in question. And hopefully he can help with proving I am 'clean' in the meantime.
You see, there are only 4 ways out of being on this doctor shopper register - 1. die 2. prove error 3. 1 year clean off medication in question 4. 2 years without contact with the health department
Obviously dying is out of the question so I am trying to prove error on their part whilst having no contact with the health department or mis-using the medication in question, in the meantime. If I don't prove they made a mistake, at least over the year it took me to try, I'd have proof I am not a drug user. And if that doesn't work, if I don't have contact with the health department for 2 years (about 1.5 years now unless they count me requesting freedom of information), I will apply directly to the woman I have to apply to, and have my name removed that way.
And then doctors WILL touch me with a ten foot pole, and I will live happily ever after.
just a thought here for ya ss and i do feel for what you are having to go thru with this. since it would appear that the actual paper work contains alot of Rx errors, would it be possible to simply go to your regular pharm(or did you go to more than one?) and just get them to simply print out your Rx records or thru your ins co(would be even better)? just trying to think of a way to truely prove here what you did and did not actually have rxed to you, ya know? i do wish you alot of luck with this hon. marcia
11-20-01,placement of hardware for failed fusion
9-22-03,removal of cavernous hemangioma that was inside spinal cord. Neuro damage to L hand L leg and R leg.