Are seniors falling victim to the war on drugs?

By December 30, 2010Uncategorized

A recent article in the New York Times reported on how seniors living in nursing homes sometimes fall victim to the war on drugs.  The problem initially stems from the fact that prescription drug abuse in this country has been on the rise for quite some time, and the Drug Enforcement Administration has long been scrambling to contain the situation.  As a byproduct of the DEA’s increased scrutiny, most pharmacies have reined in their policy for dispensing certain drugs.  And, while this heightened caution is generally a good thing, it sometimes causes delays for nursing home residents who are in need of the relief afforded by prescription painkillers.

It used to be that nursing staff could operate on instructions phoned in by a doctor to obtain prescription painkillers from the pharmacy.  According to the New York Times article, however, this practice has been replaced with the requirement that a doctor actually fax in a written prescription.  Most times, this is not a problem, but there are those occasions where a doctor is unable to quickly fax the prescription to the pharmacy, causing the nursing home resident to go without relief.  This has triggered some debate as to what the proper balance may be.  On the one hand, we want a policy that prevents prescription drug abuse to the greatest extent; yet, on the other hand, we also want a policy that affords our nursing home residents with the comfort and relief they deserve.

Those caring for elderly parents in AZ many times struggle with these types of difficult issues.  And, unfortunately, families are sometimes left with a feeling that they are at the mercy of the system.  While it is true that there are many difficult issues to deal with, families can take some solace in the fact that there are people trained to help.  When dealing with nursing home issues, Arizona Medicaid issues, or ALTCS planning issues, people caring for elderly parents in AZ should contact a reputable Elder Law firm that can help with their situation.