Pathway to Partnership, Part II (IN)

THE CHRONIC PAIN PATIENT’S GUIDE TO INDIANA’S REGULATIONS  Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 2.19.10 AM

No man is an island, Entire of itself, Every man is a piece of the continent, A part of the main. – John Donne

The poet, John Donne, knew it. Every Hoosier pain patient and Hoosier pain care provider should take it to heart. No patient or provider is an island. And pain care is best when there is a partnership between the patient and provider. The Pathway to Partnership If you are treated for pain in the Hoosier State the pathway to partnership with your physician passes through Indiana’s pain regulations. Indiana’s entire southern border is Kentucky. And when it comes to patient responsibilities, Kentucky’s pain regulations have much in common with Indiana’s. Therefore, Hoosier patients can begin preparation for their Indiana chronic pain care evaluation by reading my article: Pathway to Partnership, Part I (KY) – The Chronic Pain Patient’s Guide to Kentucky’s Regulations. Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 2.25.49 AM Available at: https://jamespmurphymd.com/2015/02/13/pathway-to-partnership Particular to Indiana is the Hoosier state’s emphasis on medication dosing limits that trigger mandatory compliance with the regulations. Calculating these dosing limits can be quite confusing and, frankly, patients are not responsible for knowing them. Prescribers are. But to be a good “partner” with your prescriber, you should at least become familiar with these dosing limits. Later in this article I will summarize. But first, in order to hold up your end of the partnership, here are ten items you can prepare:

  1. Your past medical history
  2. Your pertinent medical records
  3. An accurate medication list
  4. Any substance abuse history
  5. Your social and family history
  6. Any other medical issues
  7. Educate yourself for proper informed consent
  8. Your current level of function
  9. Your treatment goals
  10. Complete questionnaires & mental health screens

These ten items are discussed in detail in Pathway to Partnership, Part I (KY) – The Chronic Pain Patient’s Guide to Kentucky’s Regulations. Prepare as described above you will be well on your way to becoming a great partner in your care. As your partnership continues, expect to have contact with your physician on a regular basis and even randomly to:

      1. Review your progress with your treatment plan;
      2. Review the goals of your plan; and
      3. Review expectations (i.e. attending therapy, counseling, tests, etc.)

Insider Information As a partner, you are entitled to some “insider” information. Here it is… A new section of Indiana’s regulations contain a lengthy explanation of what prescribers must consider when ordering drug screens. By doing so, this section offers insight into appropriate patient behavior. The following list, summarized from the regulations, offers an insider’s look at what Indiana expects of a pain patient: In determining whether a drug monitoring test…is medically necessary, the physician shall consider” if the patient has:

      • Taken the meds as prescribed?
      • Taken more meds than allowed?
      • Given or sold meds to anyone?
      • Benefitted from the meds?
      • Taken any other drugs – legal or illegal?
      • Been honest and up front about past drug use?
      • Tried to get early refills?
      • Lost meds? Had them stolen?
      • Had an abnormal INSPECT state prescription report?
      • Failed a drug screen?
      • Been intoxicated?
      • Been acting aggressive, depressed, anxious, etc.?
      • Been diagnosed with a psychiatric condition?
      • Demanded certain specific meds?
      • Had a major illness? Pregnancy? Hospitalization?
      • Been resistant to any changes in the care plan?
      • Refused or failed to follow through with exams/tests?
      • Just not done well overall?

Bottom line: Be honest, up front and “transparent.” No one likes surprises. A good partnership is all about trust and communication. Understand what your treatment agreement says and live up to it. cs agree pic Dosing Limits Now, about those dosing limits… As I said, it can be confusing, but you should try to understand the concepts and discuss them with your prescriber. Not all pain prescriptions are subject to the Indiana regulations. Therefore, it is important to understand the dosing limits that trigger mandatory compliance. These limits are dependent upon: (1) the dose, (2) the quantity and (3) the duration. The Morphine Equivalent Dose (“MED”) is basically how strong your medication would be if it were to be substituted for morphine. This is very important to INDIANA regulatory agencies. I highly recommend you learn how to calculate your MED. Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 10.47.08 AM Calculating the MED Step ONE: Calculate the MED for one pill Determine the dose of morphine that would be equal to one of your pills using a standard conversion table (For example: a FIVE mgm hydrocodone pill is the same as a FIVE mgm morphine pill; but a FIVE mgm oxycodone pill would be the same as a 7.5 mgm morphine pill). Indiana officials recommend this website for help with making this determination: The online opioid calculator from GlobalRPH http://www.globalrph.com/narcoticonv.htm Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 2.30.15 AM Step TWO: Calculate your DAILY MED Once you have converted your pill to its “morphine equivalent,” simply add up the maximum number of pills your prescription allows you to take in a day and multiply this number by the morphine equivalent (MED) you determined in step one. (Number of pills per day) x MED/one pill = Daily MED For example: Since a FIVE mgm hydrocodone pill is equal to a FIVE mgm morphine pill, the daily MED of someone taking THREE of these hydrocodone pills per day would be: 5 mgm x 3 pills per day = 15 mgm MED Here are some common ORALLY prescribed opioids that compare to a MED of 15: Hydrocodone (oral) 15 mgm/day = 15 mgm of morphine (oral) Oxycodone(oral) 10 mgm/day = 15 mgm of morphine (oral) Oxymorphone (oral) 5 mgm/day = 15 mgm of morphine (oral) Codeine (oral) mgm/day = 15 mgm of morphine (oral) Hydromorphone (oral) 3.75 mgm/day = 15 mgm of morphine (oral) Tramadol (oral) 150 = 15 mgm of morphine (oral) Note: MED greater than SIXTY If you are on a treatment regimen with a morphine equivalent dose of more than SIXTY (60) MED, the physician may require you to have an evaluation by a specialist. According to the regulations, your physician must explain to you that there is an increased risk of adverse outcomes, including death, when your daily MED is greater than SIXTY. So now that you understand the MED, you are ready to look at the DOSING LIMITS that trigger compliance with the regulations. DOSE, QUANTITY & DURATION When any of the following conditions are met, your physician (and you) must comply with the Indiana pain regulations.

      1. DOSE & DURATION >15 MED for >3 months

DAILY MED greater than FIFTEEN for DURATION of more than three consecutive months Or…

      1. QUANTITY & DURATION >60 pills for >3 months

More than SIXTY opioid pills per month for DURATION of more than THREE consecutive months Or…

      1. PATCHES > 3 months

Any opioid skin patches (e.g., fentanyl or buprenorphine), regardless of the dose or quantity, for DURATION of more than THREE consecutive months Or…

      1. Hydrocodone-Only Extended Release

Any hydrocodone-only extended release medication that is NOT in an “abuse deterrent” form, regardless of the DOSE, QUANTITY or DURATION Or…

      1. TRAMADOL (My advice) >150 mgm for >3 months

Actual language in the regulations state: “If the patient’s tramadol dose reaches a morphine equivalent dose of more than sixty (60) milligrams per day for more than three (3) consecutive months.” This tramadol dose limit seems to be overly generous when compared to other MED dosing limits. A SIXTY (60) MGM MED of tramadol is in the range of 300 to 600 mgm of tramadol. Considering that the maximum therapeutic dose for tramadol is only 400 mgm per day, one could potentially exceed the safe upper limit of tramadol and still not exceed Indiana’s dosing limit. This seems to be inconsistent with the regulation’s other opioid dosing limits. My advice: Since 150 mgm of tramadol is equivalent to a FIFTEEN (15) MED, I believe it is more consistent with the other Indiana opioid dosage limits to consider TRAMADOL greater than 150 mgm/day for more than THREE consecutive months as the dosage limit congruent with other opioid dosage limits. Reference: The online opioid calculator from GlobalRPH http://www.globalrph.com/narcoticonv.htm Wait!!! There are EXEMPTIONS !!! Regardless of the dose, quantity or duration, the Indiana pain regulations do not apply to these patients: (1) With a terminal condition (2) Residing in a licensed health facility (3) Enrolled in a licensed hospice program (4) Enrolled in a licensed palliative care program microphone 5 In summary, patients and physicians should travel the pathway to partnership together. Patients can do their part by (1) preparing for the clinical visits, (2) understanding and adhering to their treatment agreements, and (3) educating themselves about risks, side-effects, and legal aspects of their care. It is a real challenge to treat chronic pain in this day and age. Your physician needs your help. Will you leave it all up to your physician? Or will you be a good partner, heeding the words of the poet DonneAnd therefore never send to know For whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.  * podium thumbs up James Patrick Murphy, MD, MMM is Chair of the Board of Governors -and Immediate Past President- of the Greater Louisville Medical Society, Medical Director of Murphy Pain Center, and an Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of Louisville School of Medicine. Dr. Murphy contributes to numerous publications, has presented before national and international audiences, and consults with a wide spectrum of agencies and individuals regarding pain, addiction, and the future of healthcare in our country. He is board-certified in Pain Medicine, Anesthesiology, and Addiction Medicine. * References and links pertaining to this article are provided in the comments. * This unofficial summary is my personal opinion. A full, official version of the final rule should be consulted for compliance purposes at: http://www.in.gov/legislative/iac/20141105-IR-844140289FRA.xml.html The Indian State Medical Association also has a summary available at: http://www.ismanet.org/pdf/legal/IndianaPainManagementPrescribingFinalRuleSummary.pdf no harm And if you really want to explore the Indiana pain regulations in detail, there is no better source than the online guide: First Do No Harm, The Indiana Healthcare Providers Guide to the Safe, Effective Management of Chronic Non-Terminal Pain. http://www.in.gov/bitterpill/docs/First_Do_No_Harm_V_1_0.pdf * Hey Hoosier! Who’s your partner? handshake_between_doctor_and_patient_with_the_sky_background_1341168865 * * *

Pathway to Partnership, Part I (KY)

THE CHRONIC PAIN PATIENT’S GUIDE
TO KENTUCKY’S REGULATIONS
pathway rainbow

Even though I’m on the lowest dose possible to keep my chronic pain under control I still worry this too will be taken away. At each appointment I get scared I will be told my doctor can no longer prescribe what little medication I do get. I appreciate the pain relief I do get, it means more to me than people can imagine.
~Samuel
October 1, 2014 at 7:47 PM

People with pain must recognize that they have a role to play in making sure these medications remain available, as needed, to all.
~Steven D. Passik, PhD

Abstract: This is a summary of how chronic pain patients can effectively prepare for a productive and meaningful visit with their Kentucky physician to address pain care options -especially when care involves the use or potential use of controlled substances. The goal is that patients and physicians will work together to maximize the therapeutic benefits and minimize the inherent risks to patients, physicians, and society.

karen neck

Pain is the most common reason patients see physicians. We all feel pain, but everyone experiences pain in a unique way. There are many ways to treat pain, but treatment is best when tailored to the needs of the individual. Sometimes adequate pain treatment requires drugs (i.e. “controlled substances”) that expose users to risks of addictions, abuse and misuse. In these cases, patients and physicians must work together to minimize these risks.

It has been estimated that in the U.S. there is only one pain specialist for every 26,000 patients with chronic pain. Thus the majority of chronic pain treatment remains in the hands of primary care physicians.

Treating chronic pain can be straightforward when the primary focus is providing relief. But inescapable concerns about potential drug abuse and regulatory scrutiny can make treating chronic pain very complex and stressful for patients and physicians.

Most states have specific prescribing regulations that sometimes are inadequately communicated and poorly understood. This contributes to physician anxiety and adds to the physicians’ clinical, legal, and administrative burdens.

The patient-physician relationship must be a true partnership based on respect, trust, honesty, and clear communication. The following is a summary of what patients can do to help their physician partners.

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The Chronic Pain Patient’s Guide to Kentucky’s Regulations

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General Recommendations:

  1. Prepare answers to some basic medical history questions.
  2. Obtain copies of pertinent documents and medical records.
  3. Make a list of your healthcare providers along with their contact information.
  4. You may wish to store the data on a flash drive, CD/DVD or upload to a secure website for retrieval by your physician. Be advised, until you give these documents to your physician you are responsible for keeping them private.
  5. Bring a friend or family member with you for support, assistance with questions, and to help verify information.

For the initial visit prepare the following:

  1. Medical history
  2. Medical records
  3. Medications
  4. Substance use
  5. Social and family history
  6. Other medical issues
  7. Education and consent
  8. Ability to function
  9. Goals
  10. Questionnaires / mental health screen
    1. Medical history. 

It begins with your “Chief Complaint.” This is where you tell your physician what hurts.

Chief complaint: My pain is _______________________
For example: “My pain is in my low back.”

Next, fill in some DETAILS about your pain:
(i) Cause. Based on what you know about your condition, what do you think is causing your pain?
Examples: a bad disk / pinched nerve / arthritis, etc. Be as specific as you can.
(ii) Location. Where does it start? Where does it go?
(iii) Quality. Sharp? Aching? Electrical? Sensitive to touch?
(iv) Symptoms. Numbness? Tingling? Weakness? Muscle wasting? Skin color changes? Swelling?
(v) Timing. Started when? Is it constant? Variable? Worse at certain times of the day? Lasts how long?
(vi) Aggravating factors. What makes it worse? Bending? Standing? Twisting? Being anxious? Working?
Housework? Sleep?
(vii) Relieving factors. What makes it better? Resting? Heat? Ice? Massage? Medication? Injections? Being
distracted? Sleep?
(viii) Pain scale. Rate your pain on a scale from: ZERO (no pain) to TEN (worst pain imaginable).

  1. Medical records.

Your physician may not need every record, but information about care related to your pain is useful and includes:

  • Surgery reports related to your pain (back surgeries, etc.);
  • Laboratory tests (blood tests, urine drug screens, etc.);
  • Studies (x-rays, MRI, CT, EMG, etc.);
  • Pain care treatments (epidurals, physical therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic, etc.);
  • Consultations with specialists (surgeons, pain, chiropractic, mental health).

Make a list of your diagnostic tests, especially the most recent ones; include dates and contact information. Gather the reports. If you wait for your physician to get the reports faxed, your pain care could be delayed significantly. You may want to copy them onto a flash drive, CD/DVD, or to a secure website.

  1. Medications.

(a) An accurate and current medication list is extremely important. Include the date, dosage, quantity, and directions. Bring the medicine bottles with you and/or labels, written prescriptions, etc.

Provide answers to these questions:

  • Do you find your current medications to be effective?
  • Are you taking them the way they have been prescribed for you?
  • How long have you been on your current medications?
  • When was the last time you had a medication change?
  • Are they causing you any unacceptable side effects such as: sedation, fatigue, nausea, constipation, etc.?

(b) Your medication “journey.” It is extremely important for your physician to know (and document) how you got to this point. What medications did you use in the past? Did you try some over-the-counter medications? Non-controlled substance prescriptions? Gather records (medical, pharmacy, etc.) to show how your dosages have changed over time.

(c) If you have a prescribing “agreement” with another physician, bring a copy.

  1. Substance use.

It is vital to be forthcoming about any substance abuse or any substance abuse treatment involving you or any close relative (especially a mother, father, son or daughter). And report any drug-related arrests?

Do you drink alcohol? Do you smoke?

Remember to drink plenty of fluids before your visit in case you are asked to provide a specimen for a random urine drug screen.

  1. Social and family history.

Where do you live and with whom?
Is your home life a challenge?
What is your occupation? Are you disabled?
Where do you get money to live on?
How much formal education have you had?

  1. Other medical issues.

Are you dealing with any other medical issues such as: diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc.? When was your last general medical evaluation?

Note: To receive long-term controlled substances for pain in Kentucky, it is mandatory that you have a yearly preventive health evaluation.

  1. Education and consent.

Show that you have educated yourself about controlled substances and prepare to document your “informed consent.”

(a) The Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure has posted educational points of emphasis on their website.

I have prepared an educational summary for both Kentucky and Indiana which is available here: http://goo.gl/IJ4I1l

Or download the Murphy Pain Center New Patient Package. Study the patient education sheet. Print it out. Sign it. And bring it with you.

Watch this outstanding video by Dr. Mike Evans that explains many of the pros and cons of the use of controlled substances for chronic pain care.

(b) Once you have been informed, you are ready to give your “informed consent.” You may download this document and bring it to your physician:

I have written an article about informed consent and treatment agreements, Are We In Agreement, available on my website: Confluential Truth.

  1. Ability to function.

Describe your current ability to participate in life’s activities. This will give your physician a baseline from which to judge your progress. You may visit the website for ICSI (Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement) and download and complete the form in Appendix C: Physical Functional Ability Questionnaire (FAQ-5).

  1. Goals.

Come up with some specific and realistic goals that might be attainable. Think of how you can show when you have achieved them. Within reason, think about what you would like to do that you cannot do now. Be prepared to demonstrate this to the physician; i.e. walk without a cane, bend to pick up something, rise from a chair unassisted.

Set goals that are SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and track-able.

  1. Questionnaires / Mental Health Screen

Complete these “screening” questionnaires and bring them to your visit.

You may go to the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure website, download these self-report questionnaires, fill them out, and bring them to your office visit.

  • Opioid Risk Tool
  • Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), mental health screen

You may also go to the website for ICSI (Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement) and download and complete these two forms:

Appendix A (Brief Pain Inventory); and
Appendix B (Patient Health Questionnaire PHQ-9)

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If this all seems a bit overwhelming, you can begin to simplify matters by visiting the Murphy Pain Center website and downloading the “New Patient Package.” In it you will find policies, consent forms, agreements, educational materials, and a “New Patient Evaluation” form. These are the kinds of materials you will likely be filling out at your physician’s office visit. Having this information on hand can make your visit more productive.

In conclusion: Due to growing concerns about drug abuse, coupled with layer upon layer of regulations, physicians are becoming increasingly anxious about prescribing controlled substances for patients suffering in chronic pain.

Gen rec and initial

This has been a summary of how a chronic pain patient can effectively prepare for a productive and meaningful visit with his or her physician to address pain care options -especially when care involves the use or potential use of controlled substances. The goal is that both parties will work together to maximize the therapeutic benefits and minimize the inherent risks to patients, physicians, and society.

When patients are adequately prepared, physicians can feel more comfortable, and patients can more likely receive safe, effective, and proper pain care.

It is a partnership.

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 10.46.07 PM

Note: For the purposes of this summary “controlled substances” refers to CSA scheduled drugs 2 – 4 (Schedule 5 drugs are exempt from Kentucky’s regulations).

Note: Kentucky’s regulations do not apply if the patient is being treated:

(a) in hospice or “end-of-life” treatment;
(c) for cancer pain or pain associated with the treatment of cancer;
(b) in a licensed hospital as inpatient, outpatient, or observation status
(d) as a registered resident of a long-term-care facility
(e) during a disaster or mass casualty situation
(f) as a single dose for a diagnostic test or procedure

So now that you know the pathway…

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 10.40.38 PM

James Patrick Murphy, MD, MMM is Chair of the Board of Governors -and Immediate Past President- of the Greater Louisville Medical Society, Medical Director of Murphy Pain Center, and an Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of Louisville School of Medicine. Dr. Murphy contributes to numerous publications, has presented before national and international audiences, and consults with a wide spectrum of agencies and individuals regarding pain, addiction, and the future of healthcare in our country. He is board-certified in Pain Medicine, Anesthesiology, and Addiction Medicine.

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References and links pertaining to this article are provided in the comments.

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Dawn of the planet of the value based

sunrise clark

It is the dawn of a new era.

Many cogs are now required to turn the wheels of our nation’s juggernaut health care industry. Physicians, historically the driving force in medicine, are not generally the “cog” type. This juxtaposition can have unhealthy consequences for all of us.

In his August Wall Street Journal article “Why Doctors Are Sick of Their Profession,” Dr. Sandeep Jauhar documented the pathology in our nation’s medical history. And while I agree with the good doctor’s diagnosis, I am not as comfortable with his treatment plan, which includes:

  1. “giving rewards for patient satisfaction”
  2. “replace the current fee-for-service system with payment methods such as bundled payment, in which doctors on a case are paid a lump sum to divide among themselves”
  3. “pay for performance, which offers incentives for good health outcomes.”

At first glance, Dr. Jauhar’s suggestions would appear to be reasonable measures. But employing such metrics may not sit well with our current physician workforce for a number of valid reasons.

In days past, the medical profession attracted highly intelligent practical dreamers in search of a career that allowed and rewarded unfettered blending of art and science; answering a “calling” that revered the heartfelt patient-physician relationship. If you were a “Renaissance man” or woman, crossing medicine’s threshold felt like coming home. Now in this modern medical renaissance, home is not necessarily where the heart is. Home is now inhabited by impostors masquerading as quality and value.

In days past, creativity and problem solving were vital to success in health care. Now strict adherence to guidelines, meeting quotas, and saving money for third party payers are paramount. Now the “rough spots” in the delivery line -physicians who view patients as individuals as opposed to populations – are being made smooth or else discarded.

Given a metric that determines their “bonus,” worker bees will instinctively aim for that mark. So if earning money to send their kids to college depends on getting a “five star” customer satisfaction rating, then expect health care professionals to make flashing a salesman’s smile the priority. Running a clinic on time will become more important than taking time to comfort that patient who’s problem unexpectedly deserves more attention than the automated schedule allowed…can’t risk upsetting twenty people for the sake of one, you know.

The story goes that Albert Einstein once wrote on his blackboard: Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.

Regardless of the origin, this statement rings with truth. More than an observation, it is a challenge.

hand

I held a hand the other day. There was no procedure code for it. It did not satisfy any quality metric. Truth be told, it was probably more beneficial and more appreciated than the epidural injection that preceded it.

We are living in the dawn of the planet of the value based. Students now embarking upon their medical school journey will emerge light years away from where they began. When they graduate and step into the blinding sunlight of the real world, will they even recognize it?

Or, as in the climactic scene from Planet of the Apes – when Charlton Heston’s character realized man’s demise was his own doing – will they cry out…

You finally really did it!

You maniacs!

You blew it up!

 planet-of-the-apes-1968-movies-14704094-1920-811-which-was-the-best-planet-of-the-apes-a-look-across-time

 

I hope not.

I will do what I can.

But, then again, I am a rough spot.

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White is the new look for fall

sep me cover

On July 28, 2013, the University of Louisville welcomed the Class of 2017 medical students. As an annual contribution to each new generation of emerging physicians, the Greater Louisville Medical Society purchases the students’ first white coat. As President, it was my honor to congratulate the students on behalf of the Greater Louisville Medical Society. Here are my remarks from the podium.

share in an adventure gandolf

“I’m looking for someone to share in an adventure.”

Fans of the author J.R.R. Tolkein, will recognize this as the challenge Gandalf the wizard made to the hobbit, Bilbo Baggins. This is, among other things, an adventure.

I am honored to be here on behalf your medical society – The Greater Louisville Medical Society – to congratulate you on this milestone. At close to 4000 members, we are one of the largest in country. Our mission is to: promote medicine as art and science, advocate for the wellness of our community, and protect the patient – physician relationship.

Today is a big day for you and for us. Today is a milestone along the road that will lead to a your joining our ranks. Today you are not only putting on your white coats, but you are also becoming members of the Greater Louisville Medical Society. To help you stay connected you will have access to our mobile app, where you can get alerts, educational materials, and access information about your new GLMS colleagues. As sponsors of the White Coat Ceremony, your medical society colleagues are honored to provide: your first white coat, provide, your medical society pin, membership in the Greater Louisville Medical Society, professional photographic portrait of you in your new white coat. We are your colleagues, here to support you, and we welcome you.

The Greater Louisville Medical Society has strong ties to the University of Louisville. Most of our members either graduated from the University or did post-graduate training there. I am proud to call myself a graduate of the University of Louisville Medical School Class of 1985.

Back when I was in your shoes, we did not have a white coat ceremony. Back then they wouldn’t let us wear a white coat until third year, much less actually touch a living patient. I wish we could have had a ceremony like this. That is why I invited my own family to come today. This is a special day for you and for your family and friends who have supported you. To these special people in your life, I also offer my congratulations and my gratitude.

Gratitude, yes, because you have chosen a path that is not easy and does not compensate you materially for the years spent, the sacrifices, the risks – financial, physical, emotional. But it is indeed an adventure.

As I look out upon you I see a discovery. I see a cure. I see lives saved from disaster. I see longer, better, meaningful lives. I see a suicide prevented. I see a critically ill baby saved. I see an aneurysm removed. I see a heart murmur discovered. I see a cancer detected because you followed up on the red blood cells you saw in the urinalysis report.

I also see heartache, depression, fractured lives, and failures. It is all part of the path you have chosen to follow. You may not know all the reasons why you are sitting here today. I don’t think I knew. But every day, from this day forward you will be finding answers.

The white coat itself is significant. I remember the day I finally got mine. We walked around the medical complex and even went to eat lunch in one of the hospital cafeterias. In my 3rd year of medical school Dean Ganzel was my attending on rotation through Otolaryngology. On the last day she, so graciously, took her four medical students to lunch. We ate lunch at the Kentucky Center for the Arts in our white coats. The coat meant something. It said something to the world.

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I have worn many white coats since them – short, long, in between – but whenever I put on the coat it still has meaning. It speaks. So I wondered what the message would be if instead of me, my white coat could says a few words. Well, my white coat and I discussed it and now, on behalf of my white coat, I offer this:

a white coat
I symbolize
the goals you hope
to realize

a white coat
my color’s pure
to show your values
will endure

a white coat
I will glisten
if you can try
to mostly listen

a white coat
in my presence
comfort, care and
convalescence

a white coat
wear this fashion
only if
you share my passion

a white coat
for my profession
put patients first
make no concession

a white coat
answer alarm
with answers that
first do no harm

a white coat
hear the calling
wear me when
you lift the falling

a white coat
my fabric must
be nothing but
a weave of trust

a white coat
ability
tailored with
humility

a white coat
a solemn oath
a way of life
or maybe both

a white coat
I’m going to
forever be
a part of you

Dean Ganzel, colleagues, friends and families, Mom, I thank you for this day. And to the class of 2017, I congratulate you and welcome you. For those who hear this calling there is no greater professional honor than to wear that white coat and hear the words, “That’s my doctor.”

Looking out at you, it is clear that I have found someone to share in an adventure.

Gandalf_the_White_returns

… and the white look is very becoming, I must say.

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This year’s White Coat Ceremony was held on July 27, 2014 and is the subject of current GLMS President, Dr. Bruce Scott’s September eVoice.

bruce evoice

 

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National Pain Care Providers Day

meryl

Every dog has his day, right?

In our culture, groups, individuals, and even inanimate objects are frequently honored with their very own special twenty-four hours. These days of recognition give us pauses to examine their meanings and further their causes.

But there’s a compassionate and deserving group of people who have not yet made the list…the caring people who treat our pain. 

For now, National Pain Care Providers Day is only a dream.

It doesn’t exist.

It should.
It can.
And it will…with your help.

National Pain Care Providers Day
March 20, 2015

npcpd hands screen

It’s time to recognize all who generously and selflessly strive to alleviate suffering. This includes physicians, dentists, nurses, therapists, emergency responders, trainers, masseuses, pharmacists, caregivers, mothers and anyone who gives of her or himself to ease pain.

Why is National Pain Care Providers Day necessary?

Pain is universal. It is the most common medical complaint. There is no escaping it. Pain touches every life. And as our population continues to age, pain is occurring in epidemic proportion.

Pain care is sometimes simple and sometimes extremely complicated. Caregivers can feel tremendous pressure from government agencies, police, lawyers, administrators, addicts, abusers, patients, families, administrators, insurance providers, and the media. As a result, caregivers are too often reduced to feeling “You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.”

In reality, they should be praised because of what they do.

Caregivers who persevere deserve our support, gratitude and, at the very least, a day of recognition.

Popular opinions regarding pain care and treatments are evolving rapidly. Taking a special day to spotlight best practices and inspire possibilities would not only bolster the advancement of this vital field of medicine, it would encourage the legions of those who suffer in lonely silence. Less suffering and better lives for all are the goals.

Celebrating National Pain Care Providers Day on March 20, 2015 – the first day of spring – is akin to celebrating hope. From this day forward, the vernal equinox, light overcomes darkness.

RAINBOW SCREEN

So let’s join together and recognize the first day of spring, March 20, 2015, as National Pain Care Providers Day. Let’s make this day special for the special people who treat our pain. Start by sharing your comments and ideas on this blog and/or emailing paincareprovidersday@gmail.com. Pass along the message on social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) and contact your civic leaders. Be a vital part of this movement.

Let Hercules himself do what he may,
The cat will mew and dog will have his day.
~ William Shakespeare’s Hamlet

You are the playwright now.
The parchment is blank.
Imagine.
Create.

And celebrate!

National Pain Care Providers Day
March 20, 2015

npcpd screen

 

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Is it the singer or is it the song?

I love music.

I am not what one might call “musical.” I don’t have the pipes of a Whitney Houston (see: The Star Spangled Banner) or the soulfulness of a Bob Dylan (see: Blowing in the Wind), but I appreciate their unique virtuosity.

I am a pain care physician. Pain, like music, is a sensory and emotional experience. I don’t sing or play. I touch and treat.

Sometimes I may hit the perfect note, perform the perfect procedure, compose the perfect plan of care.

Other times, despite being well versed, my plan of care may not strike the right chord. Then creating a pleasant sensory and emotional experience depends upon the passion and conviction with which my care is conducted; my song is sung.

Is it the singer or is it the song?

Is it the caregiver or is it the care given?

Music is not only intertwined with my pain care. It is woven into every aspect of my life, including my Twitter feed.

Begging the question: Is it the tweeter or is it the tweet?

Let’s find out.

For a about a year I have been composing a Twitter message or two per day. Recently, I went back and was able to find forty tweets that were “musical” in some way. It may not be America’s top forty, but I think Casey Kasem would still have been pleased.

casey kasem b and w

There are songs from rock, country, and classical genres; from musicals, commercials, television, and the silver screen. Some are serious; some are silly. Original works, live performances, even parodies.

I now invite you to take a little journey through my musical tweets. Click on the image and the link should take you right to the performance. See if you can guess the song before you link to it. Ponder how it relates to the message. Enjoy the sensory and emotional experience. And decide for yourself…

Is it the tweeter or is it the twuuth* ?

 

* twuuth (definition)

  • noun\ˈtwüth\ the twuuth : the truth in a tweet

 

#40

1 25 oct 13

25 October 2013  How the Ghost Stole Pain Care. Dramatic reading by Phil Ward and music composed by Megan McIver

https://twitter.com/jamespmurphymd/status/393876826809843712/photo/1

http://vimeo.com/77715467

 

#39

2 21 dec 13

21 December 2013  A Winter’s Solstice

https://twitter.com/jamespmurphymd/status/414443104792354816?refsrc=email

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kh_sckAUkgE&list=PLe1seBFJFklgHIqjjUUUhxZmL_rchZau9

 

#38

3 10 jan 2014

10 January 2014  Act Naturally

https://twitter.com/jamespmurphymd/status/421697528891854848/photo/1

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-07qmTUi9A

 

#37

4 12 jan 2014

12 January 2014 Les Miserables

https://twitter.com/jamespmurphymd/status/422410734950043648/photo/1

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPIos2mXbUE

 

#36

5 26 jan 14

26 January 2014 I’m Only Sleeping

https://twitter.com/jamespmurphymd/status/427318581399789569/photo/1

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KAsr-hix9s

 

#35

6 10 feb 14

10 February 2014 The Gold and Beyond

https://twitter.com/jamespmurphymd/status/433042987648417792?refsrc=email

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2hBB4DPw-h4

 

#34

7 12 feb 14

12 February 2014 ABC

https://twitter.com/jamespmurphymd/status/433632926316515329/photo/1

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8GvDLDYhNM

 

#33

8 12 feb 14

12 February 2014 Hearing Winter

https://twitter.com/jamespmurphymd/status/433655563193286656/photo/1

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VaXGGPVNnxU

 

#32

9 17 feb 14

17 February 2014 The Way We Were

https://twitter.com/jamespmurphymd/status/435621354222526464/photo/1

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VhNaXV8K4U

 

#31

10 17 feb 14

17 February 2014 Peace of Mind

https://twitter.com/jamespmurphymd/status/435639476686045184/photo/1

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5ZL8qvEmR0

 

#30

11 21 feb 14

21 February 2014 Doctor Pat

https://twitter.com/jamespmurphymd/status/437033465536462849/photo/1

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vuUpSnPXz0

 

#29

12 22 feb 14

22 February 2014 Honesty

https://twitter.com/jamespmurphymd/status/437388430465462273/photo/1

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4gOIt-M02A

 

#28

13 2 mar 14

2 March 2014 My Bologna

https://twitter.com/jamespmurphymd/status/440310294867234816/photo/1

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmPRHJd3uHI

 

#27

14 5 mar 14

5 March 2014 Oklahoma

https://twitter.com/jamespmurphymd/status/441273659001286657/photo/1

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbrnXl2gO_k

 

#26

15 14 mar 14

14 March 2014 Hair

https://twitter.com/jamespmurphymd/status/444682878396293120?refsrc=email

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Qf2R-1saDQ

 

#25

16 29 mar 14

29 March 2014 Stupid

 

https://twitter.com/jamespmurphymd/status/449943660134555649?refsrc=email

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ers0YPoMxbk

 

#24

17 4 apr 14

4 April 2014 Words

https://twitter.com/jamespmurphymd/status/452173873299980291?refsrc=email

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sr-WW5abcwQ

 

#23

18 7 apr 14

7 April 2014 Oops

https://twitter.com/jamespmurphymd/status/453267038077984768?refsrc=email

http://vimeo.com/54035300

 

#22

19 9 apr 14

9 April 2014 Call On Me

https://twitter.com/jamespmurphymd/status/453922140312440833?refsrc=email

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wh86uSsux1M&feature=kp

 

#21

20 17 apr 14

17 April 2014 Lights Went Out

https://twitter.com/jamespmurphymd/status/456764575258402816?refsrc=email

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSSJwKixbKU

 

#20

21 19 apr 14

19 April 2014 Little Wonders

https://twitter.com/jamespmurphymd/status/457546932161110016?refsrc=email

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWU8_uUJJu0

 

#19

22 28 apr 14

28 April 2014 Undun

https://twitter.com/jamespmurphymd/status/460961322163642368?refsrc=email

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzSLxYLuJhI

 

#18

23 15 may 14

15 May 2014 I’m Sorry 

https://twitter.com/jamespmurphymd/status/467135943741157378?refsrc=email

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4a_vhiBxi90

 

#17

24 5 june 14

5 June 2014 Let It Go

https://twitter.com/jamespmurphymd/status/474655637620535296?refsrc=email

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtAG3e3JLNI

 

#16

royals

5 June 2014 We Will Never Be Doctors

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxyNzqQNa50

 

#15

25 7 june 14

7 June 2014 Daniel Boone 

https://twitter.com/jamespmurphymd/status/475246656968200192?refsrc=email

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLMCO-JZqWs

 

#14

26 10 jun 14

10 June 2014 Turn It Off

https://twitter.com/jamespmurphymd/status/476212528289038336?refsrc=email

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JjCfE1n6nW4&list=PLf470HqOWw3d8Oj5uAXPV19yJ7E7aGDwX&index=163

 

#13

27 13 jun 14

27 June 2014 Don’t Stop Me Now

https://twitter.com/jamespmurphymd/status/477316980274237440?refsrc=email

http://vimeo.com/30126989

 

#12

28 14 jun 14

 14 June 2014 It’s a Grand Old Flag

https://twitter.com/jamespmurphymd/status/477902903290515457/photo/1

http://fan.tcm.com/_James-Cagney-You39re-a-Grand-Old-Flag/video/1146300/66470.html?createPassive=true

 

#11

29 15 jun 14

15 June 2014 In the Living Years 

https://twitter.com/jamespmurphymd/status/478362296126013440?refsrc=email

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWiwde4z9Qk

 

#10

30 16 jun 14

16 June 2014 Pressure

https://twitter.com/jamespmurphymd/status/478599157926473728?refsrc=email

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJCTgtDU-74

 

#9

31 21 jun 14

21 June 2014 Sunrise

https://twitter.com/jamespmurphymd/status/480542585535352832?refsrc=email

http://vimeo.com/88197078

 

#8

32 27 jun 14

27 June 2014 Listen

https://twitter.com/jamespmurphymd/status/482653910616666112?refsrc=email

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5aRRq9mquo

 

#7

33 29 jun 14

29 June 2014 Rumor Has It 

https://twitter.com/jamespmurphymd/status/483451855125479424/photo/1

http://vimeo.com/41795630

 

#6

34 the letter

1 July 2014 The Letter

https://twitter.com/jamespmurphymd/status/484055472618500096

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vrv9slgO7Ic

 

#5

35 all together now

2 July 2014 All Together Now

https://twitter.com/jamespmurphymd/status/484446529210445824

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFpW8g83g6E

 

#4

36 dialogue

4 July 2014 Dialogue

https://twitter.com/jamespmurphymd/status/484941146976567296

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTL53bmYqzM

 

#3

37 danger zone

4 July 2014 Danger Zone

https://twitter.com/jamespmurphymd/status/484955780253106177

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58QOBqAWNzE

 

#2

38 if you want it

6 July 2014 If You Want It Here It Is 

https://twitter.com/jamespmurphymd/status/485956691708477442

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWbTZuEWjnc

 

And the #1 musical tweet in the land is…

39 stipe tweet

7 July 2014 Everybody Hurts 

https://twitter.com/jamespmurphymd/status/486224816618213376

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijZRCIrTgQc

 

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keep you feet on the ground

 

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Giving them the business

Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 11.21.32 PM

On May 22, 2014 the University of Louisville Residents’ Business seminar was the last group I would address as President of the Greater Louisville Medical Society. It went something like this…

hello 2 screen

I didn’t have a course like this when I was a resident.

I wish I had.

Somewhere between respiratory acidosis and cardiac preload, learning to read a spreadsheet could have been worked in.

But it wasn’t.

You’re very fortunate that your university is enlightened and generous enough to offer this course for you.

Today, with healthcare taking up about 20% of our nation’s GDP, there are many non-medical types grasping for our nation’s healthcare steering wheel.

Soon you will be finishing your residencies.

You’ll board the healthcare industry train.

You can either be a passenger or a driver.

It’s your choice.

As I prepared for today’s seminar, I thought about what I would say to myself if I could time travel back fifteen years to when I was sitting where you are now, finishing my residency.

3 balls screen

I would tell myself that there are three balls I will have to juggle.

The first ball is your “clinical” ball. Thus far, keeping this ball in the air has been the primary focus of medical school and residency training. Patients’ needs must be met. Your patients must be well.

The second ball is your “family” ball. You’re not on this journey alone. Your loved ones and close friends depend upon you as much as you depend upon them. Lose their support and the stress of being a physician can be overwhelming. Your family must be well.

The third ball is your “self” ball. Do not neglect your own health, outside interests, passions, talents, or loves. Your self must be well.

juggle screen

The best way to keep these balls in the air is by juggling them yourself. Don’t delegate that job. Even though most of you will be employed, avoid dependence by becoming as comfortable in boardrooms as you are in operating rooms. You must not ignore the business of medicine.

*

open letter screen

(A letter arrives. It is from the future. It reads…)

Dear 2014 Me,

I’m writing you from the year 2025. Physicians are no longer considered necessary. They just get in the way. Healthcare is a mess. It’s all based on metrics. Everything is quantified and graded. There is no creativity. No innovation. No flexibility. No passion. No compassion. But at least we get to go home when the whistle blows at three p.m.

Yours truly,

2025 Me

*

letter 1 screen

This does not have to be our default future. We can do better. But only if we have physicians willing to lead. And physician leaders now must understand the business of medicine, or else medicine will be nothing more than a business. We must be in boardrooms and wrestle back control of the steering wheel.

*

letter 2 screen

(Another letter from the future arrives…)

Dear 2014 Me,

I’m writing you from the year 2025. Physicians are the essential driving force in medicine. Metrics are used to add structure to the art of medicine, not to govern or discipline. The patient-physician relationship is secure and flourishing. Creativity, innovation, and compassion fuel our passions. I don’t know what you told those residents back in 2014, but it must have worked. Thank them for me and for all of us.

 Yours truly,

2025 Me

*

Someone here must have listened. Someone decided to fill the vacuum created by the lack of physician business leadership. Someone stepped up and took firm grasp of the steering wheel guiding our nation’s healthcare. Someone refused to accept our default future.

Who was it?

hands 2

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