MVH opioid policy flawed


To the Editor:


This letter was sent to the board of trustees of Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.

I am a long-term patient of Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, and suffer chronic low-back pain. I write to protest in the strongest possible terms your policy (spoken or otherwise conveyed to hospital medical personnel) of severe limitation and/or outright refusal to allow the prescribing of even low-dose opioids to patients who suffer chronic pain, have no history of abuse, who based on prior experience know that this therapy works. While I applaud your efforts to help eliminate the very real problem of opioid abuse, I believe this policy to be flawed.

Chronic pain, of the type I suffer, is not simply a place that hurts. It is that, but it is also mentally debilitating, energy-sapping, and turns basic household tasks not into satisfying accomplishments, but pain generators and thus to be avoided as much as possible.

Since the MRI-verified pain I suffer does not rise to the level of surgical correction, and I can no longer obtain the low-dose opioid which I know to be effective, I have turned to other therapies. These include physical therapy, chiropractic manipulation, acupuncture, yoga, and spinal injection. All are expensive, time-consuming, and have produced little or no lasting improvement. Analgesics, favored by Partners HealthCare, are not an option, as the medicine I take to control colitis is an NSAID.

Therefore, I respectfully urge you to modify your blanket policy to more accurately reflect patient conditions, and allow those of us with a legitimate need to get the low-dose medication which is effective and inexpensive, and thereby allow us to return to a relatively pain-free, productive life.


William McConnell

Vineyard Haven