Government and Pain

Siobhan Reynolds died last weekend in a plane crash. I learned about this from Radley Balko, who reviewed Ms. Reynolds’s crusade at The Agitator. Her story is worth remembering.

Sean Greenwood, her former husband, suffered from chronic headaches and a connective tissue disorder. Unfortunately, pain management was not taken very seriously by doctors in those days, and the federal government made matters far worse by treating doctors who prescribed pain medication as “pushers” rather than legitimate healers. In The Chilling Effect, a movie Ms. Reynolds produced about pain and policy regarding it, she details Greenwood’s travails, and other’s. It’s a harrowing story, and the government doesn’t come out looking very good.

Ms. Reynolds’s main effort centered on the Pain Relief Network, which she organized. Her mission was to defend those doctors whom she thought were being unjustly harassed by the drug warriors. Specifically, she defended doctors who engaged in high-dose opioid therapy, a course Mr. Greenwood and other patients found to offer some relief. As Balko puts it, she was not without success, getting “some sentences overturned, and hooked accused doctors up with attorneys who know the issue. ” Unfortunately, that’s likely why prosecutors went after her, and in another horrible misuse of sealed court proceedings, suppressed her organization and brought her close to ruin.

There’s an old phrase, “doctor knows best.” That’s obviously not always true, but it’s certainly the case that government does not know best. Especially about pain.

Though it surely causes a lot, adding to our suffering.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

2 Comments so far ↓

  1. Dec
    28
    10:17
    AM
    Cliff

    I wonder why the government gets to practice medicine without a license, as do insurance companies. Doctors nowadays have been reduced from doctors to plainly “providers” after earning their right to practice medicine after many years of education. Politicians and insurance people have significantly less education. And they get to tell way more educated people what is best. What is our country coming to?

  2. Dec
    28
    12:14
    PM
    Joe Cristiano

    Many of us have been assisted by what we refer to as traditional medical care. There is a significant amount of good that has come from years of “practice” and medical research. That being said, we have also been subject to ridicule by the medical profession for suggesting the inclusion of a more natural course of action. Comments center around the assumption that it just has nothing to do with your medical problem. What the medical community has not admitted as yet, is the fact that only the body can heal and there is much that it can do that is outside the purview of traditional medicine. Thank you Paul for another insightful Common Sense.

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