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Casualty of the war on drugs

Published: February 9, 2013

“Family of woman who died in police custody seeks answers” (News, Feb. 3) highlights weaknesses of the laws dictating dispensing of prescription drugs. The interference of government in medicine has led to interrogative practices in the treatment room. Rather than quickly neutralizing the acute pain experienced by this woman, the nurse questioned the motivation of the patient to request this method of treatment.

While it's true that some “drug-seekers” attempt to obtain a “fix” through emergency room “dealers,” it should be the policy of any hospital to treat acute pain first and then question the motivation when making the actual diagnosis later.

This is ideal, but the Drug Enforcement Administration has oversight of medical dispensing of narcotics and other classes of drugs that have been “reclassified” as “narcotics” (despite the unrelated mechanisms of action) or medication known to have addictive qualities. The regulatory bullying and audits of medical practices that prescribe this form of treatment have created a punitive atmosphere that deters physicians from following their educated medical judgment in order to free themselves of additional scrutiny.

If this woman had gotten her treatment, she likely wouldn't have acted out (the pain she was experiencing likely masked her ability to behave logically) and the doctors could have made the diagnosis that would have saved her life, instead of making her another casualty of war.

Erica Edwards, Oklahoma City