Following Pill Mill Crackdown, South Florida Doctor Explains Alternative Treatments for Chronic Pain in New Documentary

Florida has made strong progress in driving unethical pill mill doctors and drug dealers from the state, but many Floridians still suffer from chronic pain. A new documentary from the Discovery Channel features a South Florida doctor who says drug addiction and pain management often go hand in hand.

Dr. Melanie Rosenblatt is director of pain management at Broward Health North in Deerfield Beach. In the hour-long documentary “Pain Matters,” she explains that understanding addiction is crucial to pain management. She says that doctors need to consider all options when treating pain patients, not just high doses of opiates, which can actually make pain worse in the long run.

Alternative and complementary treatments include nerve blockers, surgery, behavioral and psychological therapy, spinal cord stimulators, physical therapy, exercise, topical treatments, and non-opiate medications like muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatories.

The documentary covers six patients who struggled with and overcame chronic pain, including a two-time Stanley Cup-winning hockey player and an injured Iraq war veteran.

Before the state’s pill mill crackdown, Florida was home to clinics dispensing astronomical amounts of of pain pills—to legitimate patients, addicts, and drug dealers from all over the country. Their numbers have dwindled, but Rosenblatt points out that some doctors still prescribe addictive narcotics such as oxycodone in amounts she calls “egregious.”

Chronic pain can be devastating to patients and their loved ones. Increased awareness of alternative treatments and the dangers of addiction hopefully will lead to less need for narcotic painkillers.

In a Rear-End Collision, How Might the Lead Driver Share in the Responsibility?

A young man died while driving his pickup truck on U.S. 19 when he rear-ended a fully-loaded dump truck, police said. The auto accident occurred shortly after 2 a.m. just north of Klosterman Road in Tarpon Springs.

Tarpon Springs police said Joshua Saunders was northbound on U.S. 19 when he collided with the dump truck, which was also northbound. Saunders was declared dead at the scene. His father, Michael Saunders, identified him.

Yusdel Canete, 29, of Tampa, was driving the dump truck. Police have filed no charges in the case.

When a driver runs into the back of another vehicle, it is reasonable to presume that the rear driver is responsible for the accident. However, this is not always the case. For instance, the lead driver may have pulled out from an intersection or changed lanes into the path of the rear driver without a safe margin. The lead driver may have unnecessarily stopped short or may even have had malfunctioning brake lights. In the case of a dump truck, it is possible the truck was loaded beyond capacity and presented an increased danger to passenger vehicles in the event of a collision.

When an auto accident is presumably the fault of one party, it is easy to overlook the role that the other driver may have played in causing the collision. In that case, it is especially important that an experienced auto accident attorney be retained to assist in investigating the collision.

Families Turn to Hidden Cameras to Uncover Nursing Home Abuse

A recent article in the New York Times covers the growing use of some high technology in curtailing nursing home abuse: hidden cameras.

Reporter Jan Hoffman tells the story of 96-year-old Eryetha Mayberry, an Oklahoma City nursing home resident with dementia. Mayberry’s daughter, Doris Racher, noticed that a few of her mother’s belongings had gone missing from her room at the nursing home. She thought it might be another resident with dementia who often wandered into Mayberry’s room.

Racher bought a tiny hidden camera disguised as an alarm clock and placed it on her mother’s nightstand. No further thefts occurred for some weeks, and Racher nearly forgot about the camera. But she eventually decided to go through the recordings anyway. What she saw shocked her.

A nursing home aide was seen stuffing latex gloves into Mayberry’s mouth while another teased her, tapping on her head and laughing at her. They hoisted her from her wheelchair and flung her on the bed, whereupon one gave her rough chest compressions, Hoffman reports. Mayberry died soon after.

In the wake of that incident, on November 1, 2012, Oklahoma became the third state – following Texas and New Mexico – to explicitly allow residents in long-term care facilities to place surveillance cameras in their rooms. In the past two years, lawmakers in at least five states have proposed similar laws.

Most such efforts have been stymied by concerns of privacy rights raised by employee unions and facility owners, but families of residents nevertheless are using the so-called “granny cams” in increasing numbers.

Even government agencies are using them. The New York state attorney general’s office has used the cameras for years in patient neglect and abuse cases. The office recently demonstrated its methods to investigators from other states at a national conference.

In June, 2012, Ohio state attorney general Mike DeWine announced that cameras had been placed in residents’ rooms – with permission from their families – at unspecified facilities throughout the state. DeWine has since moved to shutter a facility in Zanesville, where he says cameras caught an aide repeatedly leaving food beside a resident who was completely unable to feed himself.

But surveillance raises legal and ethical questions. For instance, residents often have roommates, who have the right not to be monitored. Maryland law says cameras must be fixed and pointed directly at the intended resident. Facilities that permit cameras often require families who use them to post a notice to that effect on the resident’s door.

A family’s decision to place a camera in their loved one’s room must be weighed carefully, but in all cases, families should watch carefully for signs of abuse.