Dr Gupta, Seriously?

04C No truth sign

On December 21, 2013 at 12:28 am, in response to a story on Anderson Cooper 360 by CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, about Dr. Lynn Webster,  I posted the following comment. 

December 19th, 2013 10:00 PM ET

Pain doctor investigation

Dr. Gupta, seriously?

You know that treating chronic pain is challenging. There is no pain “thermometer” or lab test to measure, monitor, or prove pain.  It is inherently personal and subjective.  Your implied dismissal of a mode of therapy (i.e. opioids) just because it is not “proven,” smacks of hypocrisy.

You know physicians offer treatments every hour of every day that have not been proven by ivory tower standards (e.g. Many of the drugs used in Pediatrics have only been researched in adult studies and are not FDA approved for children).  Medicine is as much art as it is science. At the end of the day, it comes down to the caring personal connection between the physician and the patient – understanding that the outcome is not guaranteed.

My knowledge of Dr. Lynn Webster is indeed that of a caring, expert, and passionate physician. I wish he could have given his candid opinions, but (again, you know) when there is a lawsuit the doctor is advised to keep silent.

Your CNN piece was anecdotal, unconvincing, sensational, and seemed like “gotcha” to me. I expect better from CNN and you.

Opioid therapy for chronic pain is not without risks.  Dr. Webster has been part of the solution exponentially more than he has been part of the problem. One-sided stories (like yours) cause harm by keeping silently suffering pain patients in the shadows and by discouraging physicians (like Dr. Webster) from taking on the challenge of chronic pain care.

Dr. Gupta, you have such an influential platform. Don’t give in to sensationalism.


James Patrick Murphy, MD, MMM

Certified, American Board of Pain Medicine
Certified, American Board of Anesthesiology
Subspecialty Certified in Pain Management
Certified, American Board of Addiction Medicine