Sympathy for the Doctor


Time has a sympathetic account of the predicament facing Billings, Montana, neurologist Richard Nelson, whose practice is under investigation by the DEA, apparently based on rumors of inappropriate painkiller prescriptions. Nelson has not been charged, but he has been forced to stop prescribing opioids, leaving many of his patients without treatment. Far from a Dr. Feelgood or heedless maverick, Nelson comes across as a a respected and careful physician who tried to do everything by the book. His case apparently was troubling enough that it prompted Time to take a broader look at the conflict between drug control and pain control. Headlined "Why Is the DEA Hounding This Doctor?," the story (which also mentions the conviction of Virginia pain doctor William Hurwitz) concludes this way:

Even if he is eventually absolved, the Montana native plans to close his practice. "We thought we were doing everything just about right," he says. "But now a whole bunch of people are sitting out there hurting like hell."

[Thanks to Siobhan Reynolds for the link.]