BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Local hospital emergency departments are turning people seeking pain medications and narcotics away — handing them a letter rather than pills — despite the fact some area doctors have instructed them to do so.
But officials from the hospital community say the letter is not a response to the closure of Dr. Eugene Gosy’s practice and the subsequent investigation.
In fact, hospital administrators say the letter was drafted and provided to area facilities as a direct reaction to the region’s opioid epidemic, and that it was finished weeks ago.
They said it was not because of the ongoing investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s office into the practices of Gosy.
But it’s also hurting patients, according to Bill Graham, a patient of Gosy, who was denied the medication he needs when he went to ECMC’s ER Thursday night.
Bill was hurt on the job two years ago. He suffered herniated discs in his back and pinched nerves. He requires several pain and anti-inflammatory medications to live a comfortable life.
He said he cut his medication in half weeks ago in anticipation of being denied refills. Now, he’s getting close to running out altogether.
“The (ECMC) nurse practitioner, very nice lady, said that because of the amount of investigating going on with opiates and narcotics, that they will no longer just prescribe pain meds, even if you are disabled or in need,” Graham said. “Very aggravating that I have legal and a legitimate reason for these medications and I can’t get anything, any help from anybody. Everybody just says sorry but we can’t help you.”
Hospital officials are stressing to Gosy’s patients, that there should be no expectation to receive powerful medications anywhere other than their primary care physicians.
Robert McCormack, chairman of emergency medicine for the University at Buffalo, drafted the letter that’s being used by all local hospitals.
“These are long acting medications, they’re not appropriate for episodic care. We will not fill those prescriptions,” he said. “These are very dangerous medicines that should be used when they can be followed by a physician.”
McCormack said local ERs will still prescribe opioid medications for acute pain, such as pain derived from a car wreck or severe burn.
Gosy’s practice is expected to reopen on Monday morning, but with other practitioners at the helm.