A Kansas doctor, Steven R. Henson, 57,  was sentenced to life in prison Friday after a federal jury found him guilty of causing the death of Nick McGovern in 2015.

A Kansas doctor, Steven R. Henson, 57,  was sentenced to life in prison Friday after a federal jury found him guilty of causing the death of Nick McGovern in 2015. Henson was determined to have unlawfully prescribed the anti-anxiety drug alprazolam and methadone. The feds have  increased  prosecutions of doctors who allegedly are overprescribing opioids.

OUR FREE OPINION

According to the CDC overdose cases are on the increase. The agency notes the following:

  • From 1999 to 2017, more than 700,000 people have died from a drug overdose.
  • Around 68% of the more than 70,200 drug overdose deaths in 2017 involved an opioid.
  • In 2017, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids (including prescription opioids and illegal opioids like heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl) was 6 times higher than in 1999.
  • On average, 130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.

Statistics notwithstanding, we find several aspects of the serialized prosecution of doctors disturbing on some fronts. First, “prescription opioids are an important tool  for physicians in treating pain but also carry significant risks of harm when prescribed inappropriately or misused by patients or others. Recent increases in opioid-related morbidity and mortality have reignited scrutiny of prescribing practices by law enforcement, regulatory agencies, and state medical boards. At the same time, the predominant 4D model of misprescribers (sic) is outdated and insufficient; it groups physician misprescribers (sic) as dated, duped, disabled, or dishonest.”

As noted in HealthLeader, “Faced with skyrocketing drug overdoses, states (and the feds) are cracking down on opioid prescribing. Some patients with chronic pain say they are becoming collateral damage.”

It is also true that anxiety attacks among all ages are skyrocketing across the country. Many people are substituting street drugs for prescriptions to ease their anxiety because doctors are frightened over the chance of prosecution or disciplinary complaints. The end result is increased street drug use and untreated mental health issues. Moreover, many physicians and health care providers do not understand the severity of anxiety—you can’t know it until you have experienced it.

These dual problems and others cannot be fixed by prosecuting doctors who, as noted above, are operating under outdated and useless models that give the illusion of helpfulness. Moreover, these professionals need more training on how to handle patients who are addicted and suffering from anxiety.

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