Busy pill clinic defended | Jan. 1
Seeing the toll of pills firsthand
As a practicing emergency room physician, I experience firsthand the dark reality of prescription drug abuse on nearly every shift. So, in my opinion, if one more alleged "pill mill" has been shut down, that's strong work, but we still have a long way to go.
I grow weary of explaining to devastated families that their son or daughter will never recover, that our team could not save him or her despite our best efforts. Or there are those few where the heart still taps out a beat but they are nonetheless essentially brain dead from the lack of oxygen that these dangerous prescription medications cause in overdose. It is heartbreaking and infuriating.
The numbers are staggering — at least seven deaths a day in Florida alone. Many are young, tragic deaths, and of those who survive many are condemned to a life in a vegetative state, living for awhile on a breathing machine.
My patients tell me how easy it is to obtain these medications — for example, a phony MRI report cut and pasted, a vague complaint of pain, and some shaky form of ID will get you hooked up. And of course, at the worst offenders "cash-only" is the rule. Some of these so-called clinics and their associated pharmacies are making millions, I'm willing to wager.
I am sure there are some legitimate pain management clinics, where the highly specialized practitioners genuinely care for the plight of their patients and are honestly trying to help those suffering intractable pain. And there are those patients for whom there is nothing left to offer but relief of that pain when all medical or surgical options have failed. But I suspect that these are the exceptions.
I hope these so-called "doctors," if convicted, find themselves in prison, where they will have plenty of time to think about the grief and suffering of so many lost souls to which they, either directly or indirectly, have greatly contributed.
And thumbs up to our new attorney general, Pam Bondi, and her plan to tighten up regulations for or target these malignant "pill mills."
Paul C. Prator, M.D., Tampa
Pill mills on Bondi's radar | Jan. 1
Don't ignore those in pain
I understand that pill mills are a problem, but there is another problem not being addressed: people who live in constant pain and cannot get the necessary pain medicine because responsible physicians are afraid of prescribing them.
I know at least four people who live with pain constantly, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Their doctors are afraid to give them enough medicine to allow them to function more closely to normal because of criticism the physicians may receive — indeed, they may even lose their licenses.
In our search for people who are abusing pain medication, do not overlook those who genuinely need it.
Ann Still, St. Pete Beach
It isn't just about money
Gov. Rick Scott says that government can only give us what it first takes from us. I guess he is only thinking about money. What about the protective regulations and laws that are necessary to benefit the citizenry?
Mike Krenitsky, Clearwater
Driving in Florida
For friendlier roads
A Florida driver's wish list for 2011:
• Pass a law against texting and talking on cell phones while driving.
• Drivers, please stop turning right into oncoming traffic when that traffic has the green light.
• Please start using your directional lights to show your fellow drivers that you are turning.
• Please stay a safe distance behind cars to prevent rear-end accidents.
• So traffic can flow better, please don't drive in the passing lane; pass and pull back into the driving lane.
• Let's start driving and treating our fellow drivers as we would like to be treated. Courtesy on the roads and highways has been long forgotten.
Earl Trongeau, Brooksville
Breach deserved more play
I am puzzled as to why our local and national media has not made more of the story of the Okaloosa County sheriff who discovered up to 40 illegal aliens working in a secure section of Eglin Air Force Base for up to a year.
The federal government wasn't interested and didn't offer much help, so only three illegals were finally arrested at the end of the 90-day investigation. On the Internet, one finds many comments from soldiers complaining that this is not an isolated incident.
Law-abiding, taxpaying citizens now must submit to full-body scans or a friendly pat down if we go to the airport, but apparently if you are here illegally our federal government will bend over backwards to allow you to work at places American citizens can't even look into.
Craig R. McNees, Tampa
U.S. to bolster Afghans' training | Jan. 2
Lack of protection
If using Janet Napolitano's skills in protecting borders in Afghanistan is the best this country can do, we need to ship all of our military home to safety, immediately.
Our best and most patriotic citizens are being maimed and killed over there. The Afghan government is corrupt (much like our own) and the citizens there live under a tribal mentality that says "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." Therefore we don't know whom we can trust or who the enemy is.
In the Jan. 2 Times I read about Marine Lance Cpl. Justin Gaertner of Trinity being maimed by an IED, and my heart breaks for him and for all who have been killed or injured. In the same day's paper is the article about Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano sending 52 experts to train the Afghan border patrol. Is this a joke? Napolitano can't even protect our own southern border.
Lindsay Paolillo, Dunnellon
Campaign against obesity
Cut out snack foods
Michelle Obama wants to cut down on childhood obesity. I think the Republicans in Congress should help her by cutting the food stamp program so that only staples like rice, beans, flour, milk, sugar, eggs, lean, low-cost cuts of fresh meat, and margarine without transfats may be purchased.
Cutting out the corn chips, snacks, soda, processed meats and junk food from this program would do much to help fight obesity.
Ronnie Dubs, St. Petersburg