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Monday's Letters: Hold licensing boards responsible for pill abuse

Prescription drug abuse

Medical boards must do more

Your coverage of this statewide problem has been spot-on, except for one very confounding issue that looms over the whole problem. Why are our state's medical licensing boards treated with such condescension? Their primary purpose is to serve and protect the citizens. This is accomplished by a system of licensure to determine competency, and a system of oversight to ensure public safety.

According to the Sept. 26 story, Board of Medicine member Dr. Steven Rosenberg is quoted saying, "The biggest problem is, we can't discipline anybody unless a complaint is filed … and drug addicts aren't about to complain about their drug dealer."

This is, first of all, disingenuous because any medical board can take action without a complaint being filed. All medical licensees — as individuals, facilities, labs, equipment, etc. — are subject to oversight by their licensing board. I'm sure the remark is not one of ignorance but of the same arrogance and disregard that allows 18 months or more to go by before regulators take action.

We're talking people's lives here — hundreds and thousands. Granted, these victims may well have destroyed their lives in other ways if the prescription drugs were not made so available, but the system should not enable this to happen so easily. We should not have to use precious and expensive police and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration resources to blunt this problem when we have in place a system to control the abuse.

Board member Dr. Allan Escher is quoted as saying, "On the one hand, we want to stop all bad medicine. On the other hand, we have to (protect) physicians from wrongful prosecution.'' When I read about trucks full of young men coming in from other states — all needing "pain meds" and paying cash for hundreds of pills — do we need to worry about protecting physicians from wrongful prosecution? Do we need 18 months before action is brought?

Anthony S. Comitos, Palm Harbor

Put spotlight on ethical pain management clinics

I congratulate you on your continuing articles advocating controls to eliminate the abundance of "pill mills" in the Tampa Bay area.

Your articles, however, provide little mention of the truly legitimate pain management clinics that provide services to a large population of people who really do suffer from severe chronic pain and need help.

As a senior citizen who always tried to stay physically fit during my lifetime, I have spent the past 10 years suffering from incurable and inoperable leg, ankle and foot problems. Fortunately, I found professionals in pain management who were able to implant a device in my lower back that has reduced my pain and need for pain medications.

Unfortunately, people like this are being unfairly degraded and their profession demeaned as you rightfully go after the "bad guys."

Your paper could serve the public by doing a series of articles where you interview some of the quality pain management practices. These professionals understand that their options include more than just medication. They inform their patients of the options available and have helped many of us lead productive lives with less pain.

Jack Therrien, Palm Harbor

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Men are victims, too

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Across the nation, the news wires are filled with information on benefit walks/runs and candlelight vigils, all to honor and remember domestic violence victims and survivors. The focus and theme of these annual benefits is on ending men's violence against women.

However, not all intimate partner violence, or IPV, fits into this neat package; some victims are male and some perpetrators are female.

IPV against men has always been a hot-button issue. While domestic violence advocates may know men are victims, most of them insist that victim service agencies (more than 2,000 of them in the country) should focus exclusively on ending violence against women by men, because women are the most injured and prevalent victims. As a result, serious outreach and services for the male victims are sorely lacking.

According to the Justice Department, men are victims of assault by their partners in approximately 36 percent of the reported cases each year.

The Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women is now in its 10th year of specializing in outreach and services for male victims.

Abuse is not a gender issue; it is a human issue.

Elka Zwick, St. Petersburg

Cyclists' deaths

Educate cyclists

The recent wave of bicyclist deaths is certainly tragic, and one can understand the cyclists' call for greater awareness on the part of drivers. As a motorcyclist, I share the cyclists' frustration with inattentive drivers. However, it is equally necessary for cyclists to take responsibility and recognize the added dangers they face on the road.

Education is important. Motorcyclists are required to take a safety course, pass a test and obtain an additional driver's license endorsement before legally operating a motorcycle on the streets. A similar and possibly mandatory course for bicyclists may serve the cycling community well in the long run. Cyclists need to be constantly aware that they are on small, slow-moving vehicles that are not easily spotted on the road.

As an avid motorcyclist, I recognize that I am choosing to place myself at greater risk by being on the road with automobiles. We, too, face unfortunate tragedies among our friends and families, sometimes the fault of motorcyclists, but more often than not the fault of motorists.

Those of us who make the choice to share the road with larger vehicles must take responsibility for our own safety to the greatest extent we can.

Shawn Hyde, St. Petersburg

'Taj Mahal' courthouse

Keep it simple

With all the "he said, she said" on the Tallahassee courthouse, is it just too simple to pass a bill stating that no unrelated items can be tacked on to any bill going up for a vote? Seems to me that is long overdue.

As far as legislators not knowing what the they are voting for, isn't that their job?

G.G. Williams, St. Petersburg

Not a rocket 'scientist'

In your wire service obituaries on Oct. 3, the late Robert Truax is described as a rocket scientist. With all due respect to this remarkable man, Truax was a rocket engineer.

The "rocket scientist" cliche needs to be put to rest, if only because scientists do not design and build rockets, engineers do. Scientists collect and verify data; engineers make the gizmos that allow their colleagues to seek universal truths.

Kurt Loft, Tampa

Father and son make it to 'The Show' | Oct. 6

A refreshing change

In today's world of reporting, we seem to usually hear about nothing but crime and violence. What a refreshing change to read Lane DeGregory's article about the Mathews family. She captured the pure love of a family with beautiful writing. If only the Rays had won the same day!

Barb Morlack, St. Petersburg

Monday's Letters: Hold licensing boards responsible for pill abuse 10/10/10 [Last modified: Sunday, October 10, 2010 4:30am]
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