Patients 'may take matters into their own hands' if pain management rules change: Kelowna MLA | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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Patients 'may take matters into their own hands' if pain management rules change: Kelowna MLA

FILE PHOTO: Vernon resident Koren LeFranc relies on pain management injections to keep her back pain at bay.

B.C. patients could be left crowding hospital emergency rooms or putting themselves in harm’s way to get their chronic pain managed if proposed changes go ahead, Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick says.

Letnick, who is also the opposition health critic, says he’s heard estimates that up to 80 per cent of patients receiving specialized pain management treatments could be out of luck if their doctors are deemed unqualified under proposed regulations.

As iNFOnews.ca reported in a story last week, the new guidelines are part of an initiative to create common standards for credentials and training for various medical procedures in B.C. Doctors say the current wording for pain management qualifications would strip most general practitioners from being able to offer the treatments, 

Letnick has spoken to a Kelowna doctor who operates a pain clinic and relayed the concerns to the government in May in the B.C. legislature.

“The challenge I’m identifying as communicated to me by the medical community, is that if they (committee) don’t acknowledge the physicians who have excellent training and have been practicing this service for years outside of hospitals, the proposed change would make them no longer eligible outside the hospital setting,” Letnick says.

He says that would push patients to get their pain managed in emergency rooms or by “taking matters into their own hands.”

“With the current opioid crisis, that’s the last thing we want,” Letnick says.

One suggestion he’s heard is to change the policy to allow existing pain management doctors to be grandfathered into the new regime.

“It’s fine to set up criteria in professional development processes, and goals the government wants to achieve for administering this service, but there are many physicians doing it safely and meeting their clients’ needs,” Letnick says.

The Procedural Pain Management dictionary is currently in draft form and consultation is ongoing. A revised draft will come out in June for further feedback from stakeholders. It's unknown when the final version will be published.

READ MORE: EXCLUSIVE: B.C. doctors, patients fear uncertain future if pain management treatments are stripped


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