Megan was a “drug seeking” patient who sticks out in my memory. Drug seekers are patients who use the health care system to acquire more medication, usually to feed their addiction to mind and mood altering drugs. Of the many drug seeking patients I’ve taken care of, Megan sticks out for her sheer audacity.
Complaining of back pain, Megan and her boyfriend came to the hospital immediately after being discharged from a hospital 4 hours away. She said she works in health care but that she was mistreated at an outside hospital; they would not address her pain.
Megan was admitted to our Hospitalist service. After assessing her and reviewing her records, the physician could find nothing wrong with her back. He knew that her long distance travel, request for specific narcotics, experience in the health care industry, and benign assessment all meant one thing: she may be a drug seeker.
He went to our state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program database. He pulled her up and saw that she had been prescribed 360 Percocet 2 weeks ago and 30 Vicodin 1 week ago. Interesting. She told the physician and me that she had never tried Vicidon. Assuming she had none left, she had burned through 2 months’ worth of narcotics in 3 weeks. Red flag much? She was sent home with a taper of narcotics to help her wean off the drug. My guess is that after taking the taper drugs at a much higher frequency than recommended, she crossed state lines and went to a neighboring state. Unfortunately, states maintain separate databases. For all I know, she may have already been pulling her scam in multiple states.