'We are killing innocent people': Stunned doctor warns of opioid danger, even when taken as prescribed

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  • Ann Blake Tracy Henderson, NV
    Dec. 14, 2017 7:46 p.m.

    Thank you kranny!!! You took the words right out of my mouth! I had the International Coalition for Drug Awareness where we focus on this very issue. Would love to have you join us.

    Interesting to note, another study done by pharmacists in 1995, due to concern that the drugs they were dispensing were killing too many, was published in "Drug Topics." They concluded that the death toll for taking prescription meds "as prescribed" was 200,000. So according to the JAMA study you quote, over a five year period the death toll increased by 50,000. Now if the deaths continued to increase only at that rate (although I would expect it to have increased at a much higher rate over the last few years) we should now, 17 years later, have a death toll of at least 420,000 annually.

    Losing 420,000 per year would be like having at least two 9/11 tragedies hit this country every week! We went to war for how many years over only one 9/11?
    Where is the outcry for all of these senseless pharmaceutical deaths?! And people are concerned about guns?! It appears to me that shooting pills is far more lethal!

  • Fullypresent Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 12, 2017 9:44 p.m.

    Sounds like the problem was that they didn't know people had sleep apnea. Did they look at the level of anesthesia they were given, pain drugs during surgery, amount of pain drugs they were given?

    I know so many individuals that have had sleep apnea, surgeries with pretty strong pain drugs after, and have been fine after. Many. Perhaps they need to look at what else is going on or the individuals may have in common? Were they all given the same kind of pain drugs?

    We have to be careful to not go too far the other direction where we are not doing good pain management for people. Condolences to all the families involved. Tragic losses.

  • 1hemlock Tooele, Utah
    Dec. 11, 2017 1:54 p.m.

    Two patients die of post op complications supposedly due to a narcotic reaction in Roosevelt Utah in 6 months of each other?
    There are two things that must be checked. 1) I'd be checking to see what the lot number on the oxycodone that was given, maybe it was too strong (unlikely). and 2) Tonsillectomy has one of the most painful post op experiences. Recently there have been meetings with physicians in Utah and conversations with them to reduce the number of pain pills prescribed and dosages . In those meetings they have stated that for all procedures the dosage and amount of pills can and should be reduced . . . except for tonsillectomy; it is that painful. And to have someone die two days post op when the throat hurts the worst doesn't make sense. Either it hurt so much that he took too many pills (probably, but they don't state what the toxicology report said in the article) or he was on another narcotic like methadone and combination depressed his respiratory drive. There are thousands of tonsillectomies done on mostly kids and there are very few narcotic problems in most of them. There is more to this than just someone dying from taking percocet post op.

  • JMHO Eagle Mountain, UT
    Dec. 11, 2017 1:03 p.m.

    Like stated earlier, a healthy person doesn’t die from an underdose of pills. An autopsy needed to be performed. We shouldn’t speculate cause of death. It needs to be verified.

  • WJDad West Jordan, UT
    Dec. 11, 2017 11:28 a.m.

    A small percentage of people are hurt, some very few even killed. If better monitoring will help reduce problems then that is great!

    I worry that the overwhelming majority who heal faster and more easily without pain get swept under the rug in the current panic over the small minority. I worry even more about people with chronic pain for whom opioids are the current least bad solution in Utah. Chronic pain can shut down someone's life also.

  • Horacemann Layton, UT
    Dec. 10, 2017 10:44 p.m.

    Our son went into full cardiopulmonary attest while recovering from outpatient surgery at home. Before leaving the hospital they gave him morphine, Percocet and OxyContin within a 20 minute span of time even though he described his pain level at a five. Had we not checked on him when we did and administered CPR he would be dead. He spent one week in the ICU with multiple organ failure and fortunately fully recovered. This was an obvious case of a physician administered drug overdose for which no one took responsibility. For proof I’d offer never seeing a bill for from the hospital for a weeks stay in the ICU but also never any recognition they’d done anything wrong. Reading this story I realize just how close we came to losing him and how tragically rampant this problem has become.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    Dec. 10, 2017 6:51 p.m.

    Tylenal is one of the most dangerous pain killers on the market. Overdose is easy with deadly results.

    It isnt just opioidsa that have risks.

    Why do the same people who quote scripture about every herb of the field when it comes to pot, conveniently forget that poppies are also one of God's creations?

    Some have a high pain tolerance, others enjoy good health.

    There are those who need powerful pain killers to lead productive lives.

    Don't make life hard on them.

  • DarthMaul Vernal, UT
    Dec. 10, 2017 3:18 p.m.

    We can scream all we want about this but the main core of the problem is well protected within the layers of political power at the federal level. The career politicians will always turn a blind eye because of the incentives and perks they get from the big powerful pharmaceutic companies. As mentioned in this article, the risk for this is common knowledge among medical doctors and then, of course, drug companies will always put a disclaimer on their labels to cover their hind ends in case of a side effect to the public. We need to vote out the senators who are always sided with pharmaceutical companies and shield them from accountability, from office.

    My heartfelt condolences to this family and others who may have been affected by the same predicament.

  • Midwest Mom Soldiers Grove, WI
    Dec. 10, 2017 2:31 p.m.

    Why are these drugs still being used?

    If they are as dangerous as they appear to be, then stop, now. Don't send your patients home with a monitor, just don't use it, or monitor them in the hospital while they're on the drug.

    You wouldn't sleep with a loaded gun. Take these drugs off the market. Stop prescribing them.
    What does it take for people to get serious about this?

  • Harrison Bergeron Holladay , UT
    Dec. 10, 2017 2:29 p.m.

    This can be traced back to an FDA that has lost its way. COX-2 inhibitors are the answer to this problem. They are powerful pain relievers but don't suppress the CNS or cause addiction. The FDA has made them out to be dangerous. Arcoxia is being used throughout the world, but the FDA won't approve it here. So physicians are left with opioids. Today's FDA would not approve acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

  • dlarsen Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 10, 2017 11:05 a.m.

    This is always a pain nobody can understand unless they have been there. I do give Hugh credit to the Physician who actually spoke out about the issue. Most Doctor's are so afraid of Malpractice claims, they would distance themselves as much as possible. However, I also believe the Doctor experienced two separate (Very rare) events, closely related in time. For the majority of society (When taken properly), generally only have mild side affects (If any).

    The fact is; there are people in desperate need of narcotic pain medications on a daily basis. By putting such a "Stigma" on Pain Medications, this will likely affect these people's ability to have any quality of life! Sadly, due to the Heroin epidemic currently sweeping the Country, people who cannot manage to get off of medications, easily obtain Heroin in place of other regulated narcotics. I will say, most of these people started their addiction on prescribed medications. However, attempting to allow the D.E.A. and other Government intrusions into the Doctor patient relationship is unacceptable! Doctor's will become afraid of Arrest (Or investigation), and stop prescribing needed medications. This is not acceptable.

  • kranny utah, UT
    Dec. 10, 2017 10:39 a.m.

    Why aren't these trained doctors better educated in school, let alone by Big pharma reps, about these lethal side-effects, not only of opioids, but of all toxic drugs? These harmful side-effects aren't new to the medical/pharmaceutical industries. Barbara Starfield M.D. published an article in a 2002 JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association), the medical journal that doctors should be familiar with, about drug-related deaths due to patients taking drugs as prescribed, and not abused. Taking statistics from the year 2000, she reported that over 250,000 deaths were attributed to drug interactions and medical procedures, making it the third leading cause of death in the United States, behind only heart disease and cancer deaths. Imagine what that number is today? Ignorance is driving too much of this current plague.

    Or, are doctors aware of the problem, and simply being complicit to their mother industries, for fear of negative impact to their careers and retribution.

  • What in Tucket Provo, UT
    Dec. 10, 2017 9:38 a.m.

    A T&A is not an innocuous operation and there is a couple of weeks recovery period with varying severity of pain. Best to take nothing for pain if you can do without. Post op bleeding is the complication the dr fears, and all patients are at risk for it.

  • kolob1 Sandy, UT
    Dec. 10, 2017 9:30 a.m.

    When I had my hip replaced the doctor put me on opiods while I was in rehab . The pills made me sick and I decided to quit talking them. My rehab physician insisted that I must take them.. When I checked out of rehab they had a sheet of punch out pills, opiods and told me to take them home. "Why should I take them at home ?" I asked "if I told you I wouldn't take them in l rehab". I soon discocvered why. They had already billed me for all the pills I should have taken. I threw them in the trash.

  • Desireeall Ferron, UT
    Dec. 10, 2017 8:52 a.m.

    Thank you for addressing this!My mother is still in the hospital after her oxygen dropped to 55 percent, she was in a coma and nearly gone with phenomena from shallow breathing. I always felt it was caused from these medications. I support this doctor 100 percent!

  • EDM Castle Valley, Utah
    Dec. 10, 2017 8:18 a.m.

    Like other commentors, I applaud this family and the doctor for their willingness to discusss this tragedy in public, and for their willingness to question current medical practice. Glad this doctor has the courage to acknowledge that our current healthcare system does not lend itself to open disclosure.

    My sympathy to the family.

  • samhill Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 9, 2017 8:57 p.m.

    There are some developments in the works to come up with pain relief that doesn't rely on opioids which, in addition to suppressing sensations of pain, can also suppress the respiratory system. Not to mention the horrible problems of addiction. Let's hope they work as well as some theorize and are made available ASAP.

  • shamrock Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 9, 2017 8:36 p.m.

    Kudos to the doctor for investigating these tragedies further and making this information public.

  • 1covey Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 9, 2017 8:35 p.m.

    The FDA's handling of opioid research is suspect, when doctors are being surprised. An instant investigation into the FDA's handling is in order, along with an immediate recall of all opioids where ever they have been distributed. Anything less is unacceptable, if not criminal. The whole review process needs careful and meticulous examination.

  • Thomas Thompson Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 9, 2017 6:49 p.m.

    If he was a healthy 21-year old, the medical examiner should have performed an autopsy. It simply won't do to merely speculate that this poor young man's death was caused by a combination of an opioid and acetaminophen. Like this young man, I, too, had a tonsillectomy at age 21, and I, too, ended up with "fluid" in my lungs. That "fluid" was blood, caused when the wounds from my surgery hemorrhaged and the blood from the wounds went into my airway and thence into my lungs. Fortunately, I was still in the hospital at the time and a fast-thinking doctor was able to save my life.

    My condolences to the family.

  • george of the jungle goshen, UT
    Dec. 9, 2017 6:47 p.m.

    There is an agenda, Georgia Guide Stones, everyone isn't trustworthy. Not even the drug company.

  • aeadams West Jordan, UT
    Dec. 9, 2017 5:53 p.m.

    So, so sad. Everyone's worst nightmare. That's awesome the doctor was able to put aside his own ego, as he calls it, to dig deeper into this issue and is now taking the extra step to protect his patients. Great information to keep in mind.