Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Regulators debate how many pain scripts are too many

TAMPA — The tough restrictions in a new state law regulating pain clinics include a seemingly simple provision: Limit the number of prescriptions for powerful, controlled drugs a physician can write in one day.

But it's easier said than done.

Members of the state medical boards met Thursday in Tampa to devise a cap that left no one completely satisfied.

The proposal: Each physician working full time in a pain clinic could write a maximum of 150 prescriptions per day — three per patient, on average — for narcotics such as OxyContin and hydrocodone, and the antianxiety drug Xanax. Part-time doctors' totals would be limited by hours worked.

"There are going to be holes in this that people will find. They'll slither their way through," said Dr. Lisa Tucker, a Pensacola ob-gyn on the Board of Medicine, noting that state inspectors can't know a part-time doctor's hours. "If they lie, they lie."

The medical board objected to the caps before they became law. Their concerns include what happens when a physician meets the daily limit, then gets a last-minute visit from a sick patient.

But the general provision took effect this month with the new law, and it's the regulators' job to define it. So if people have problems with it, Board of Medicine attorney Ed Tellechea said they need to talk to legislators.

"I think it's completely unworkable. It makes no sense," he said. "There's a million loopholes in it."

Doctors say the new law and the boards' regulations impose burdens on their practices.

"Nothing that you are doing today is going to be easy for anyone who practices this specialty to implement," Dr. Carissa Stone, an anesthesiologist at Gulf-to-Bay Integrative Pain and Rehabilitation, told board members.

The sweeping law, aimed at addressing a drug abuse crisis that kills an average of seven Floridians a day, already has drawn a legal challenge. Pain doctors and a patient are objecting to a requirement that only a 72-hour supply of these controlled drugs can be dispensed to customers who pay in cash. They also have issues with the law's definitions and the training requirements to practice in pain clinics.

The training issue remains a lightning rod for the state medical boards, which have spent more than a year developing their pain clinic regulations. The Board of Medicine says pain practices should be limited to anesthesiologists, neurologists and neurosurgeons, psychiatrists, and those with specialized training in pain medicine or physical medicine/rehabilitation. Many physicians already in practice are grandfathered in.

But the Board of Osteopathic Medicine wants osteopaths to open their pain clinics to general internists, family physicians, orthopedists, gerontologists and those trained in hospice and palliative medicine.

The medical doctors have not decided how to address the discrepancy, which could make it harder to defend their rule.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this story. Letitia Stein can be reached at lstein@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3322.

Regulators debate how many pain scripts are too many 10/14/10 [Last modified: Thursday, October 14, 2010 11:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Plan your weekend Aug. 18-20: Elvis in concert, Jason Aldean, Monster Jam Triple Threat, Sing-Along Grease

    Events

    Plan your weekend

    The king

    Elvis: Live in Concert: This year marks the 40th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death, and Ruth Eckerd Hall will have a Graceland-produced Elvis concert on a movie screen, accompanied by a full live orchestra. Graceland calls it the closest audiences …

    Handout photos of Elvis: Live in Concert, a tour spectacle featuring a live orchestra backing the voice of Elvis Presley, projected onto a movie screen. The tour comes to Ruth Eckerd Hall on 8/18/17. Credit: Graceland.
  2. Woman convicted in murder of 18-year-old with cerebral palsy gets lighter term

    Criminal

    TAMPA — Linda Bonck, a 90-pound Chamberlain High School senior with cerebral palsy, lived near Tampa's Lowry Park. She struggled to walk and talk but was known for being friendly and trusting of strangers until she vanished one day in 1992.

    Georgia Miller, 39, was convicted for the 1992 murder of Linda Bonck, an 18-year-old Chamberlain High School student who had cerebral palsy. Originally sentenced to life in prison, Miller was resentenced Wednesday to 65 years, the result of U.S. and Florida Supreme Court decisions that found it unconstitutional to sentence juveniles to life. With gain time, Miller will be released from prison in the next six years. [Florida Department of Corrections]
  3. Boynton Beach woman arrested on DUI, child abuse charges

    Criminal

    A Boynton Beach woman was arrested Saturday and faces DUI and child abuse charges after she blew a .200 on a breath test with an unbuckled child in the backseat, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.

    Brandy Lerma, 31 of Boynton Beach, was arrested on DUI and child abuse charges on Saturday. [Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Editorial: Why can't Hillsborough commissioners move Confederate monument?

    Editorials

    The violence in Charlottesville, Va., crystallized for much of the nation the danger of refusing to address painful symbols of the past. But not so in Hillsborough County, where the County Commission on Wednesday reversed itself yet again and left open the possibility of leaving a Confederate monument outside the …

  5. Former WTSP employee sues station's parent companies for gender discrimination

    Civil

    A former director at WTSP-Ch. 10 has sued the station's parent companies, claiming she was the victim of gender discrimination.