A Pained Life: ER Protocols


When I read about people going to the emergency room to be treated for breakthrough pain, it is rare for anyone to say they felt they were well-treated. They tend to say they were disbelieved, looked at as a drug seeker, or the ER doctor did not give them enough meds to last until they could see their pain management doctor.

I have almost always replied, “Ask your doctor to send a protocol letter to the ER. Then if you have to go they will know what you have and how your doctor wants it treated.”

It occurred to me that it would be a good idea for me to query some ER’s and see if this was in fact good advice…

“What if a patient called their doctor’s office and then the doctor called the ER with instructions about what to do for the patient?” I asked.

“That would work. And is probably the best thing for someone to do,” the nurse told me.

I know it is hard to wait when you are in pain. I know the idea of giving the doctor time to call back — say in an hour — would seem like the longest hour in the world, especially when the pain feels insurmountable…

I don’t know about your doctor, but I imagine it would have taken my doctor not just an hour to respond, but many days, especially if it’s after hours or on the weekend.

My advice?  Don’t go to the ER unless you’re dying.  No one at the ER will help a chronic pain patient — the DEA, state governments, and the media have seen to that.  After being mistreated and abused just once at the ER, I have vowed never to return.  I don’t ever want to feel like that again.

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