Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Patients Rights Meetings

Oregon Patients Rights Association meeting held yesterday, November 20, 2012 proved informative about what we have set up so far, as well as what we need to do to make systemic changes occur in the way health care is being provided in Douglas County, as well as other parts of Oregon.

What we have learned is that there are a variety of agencies or organizations that provide some oversight that should help us achieve accountability plus local policy and procedure changes.  These include the agencies that license health care professionals.  In this case, there are two:  Oregon Medical Board and the Oregon Board of Nursing. They also include agencies that provide funding of our state and federal tax dollars like the Oregon Health Authority (oversees certification of Rural Health Clinics in Oregon), Oregon Department of Medical Assistance Program (Medicaid), and the U.S. Department of Health & Humans Services: Center for Medicare (& Medicaid) Services (CMS).   Oregon Patients Rights Association (OPRS) is now set up to help people file complaints with any of these agencies, and volunteers will be available at the end of each of meetings to do this. 

Some were cautious of the above agencies, particularly the Oregon Medical Board, and its ability to hold doctors accountable.  Their history of issues related to undertreatment of pain do not seem to be good.  We also discussed concerns about the current paid staff, particularly OMB's Executive Director, role in the problems, particularly regarding the issue related to prescription pain drugs and medial marijuana. We need to look into why this is a problem.  Is it staff or does the Board need to have some more accountability for what is happen here to patients? 

We discussed issues related to appropriate pain management and how current practices of many medical professionals in our community conflict with good care.  Reviewed the role of the Oregon Medical Board, which is to insure that doctors practice appropriate medicine based on science.  This includes making sure all their licensed providers are knowledge about the science of pain management that includes medical marijuana and other alternatives to prescription medication.

Although we came together due to the patient abuse that is a result of inappropriate pain management policies regarding the use of marijuana, we understand that this just reflects bigger problems.  One is the overall lack of knowledge, and/or enforcement of existing Oregon law regarding the right of patients to be treated for pain.  Another is the potential conflict of interest of health care providers in our community (particularly DCIPA doctors) have when it comes to good pain management practices, as well as the time (cost) of care for those with all chronic medical conditions. 

When doctors financially benefit from not taking time and care of their patients, it does not take a brain surgeon to see the conflict of interest they have with their chronically ill patients.  However this is a much bigger systemic issue that we are not able to deal with, at least for now. 

What we need is more stories of people who have had problems regarding pain treatment.  We need to get more people involved in demanding that local health care professionals honor patients rights.  Oregon Patients Rights Association will continue to meet over the next several months at the Douglas County Courthouse and would like to plan some bigger educational events after the 1st of the year. 

It takes both knowledge and action to have any rights.  Get a little of both at our next Oregon Patients Rights Association meeting at the Douglas County Courthouse Room 311 (Roseburg) on Tuesday, December 11 from 6-8 p.m.

For information or help in the meantime email: or call (541) 236-3083. 

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