Thanks to Aesop (https://raconteurreport.blogspot.com/) for the inspiration for this post. See his series of posts, July 10 2019 to July 12, 2019. I write this on 12 July 2019. He may have more: it appears that he is just warming up!
So, TINS©, TIWFDASL© as a midlevel in a county lock up. Our sheriff had a policy of no drugs (I.e, no euphoriants narcotics or sleepers) for inmates. I was told that the rationale was that he did not want inmates to “sleep their sentences away”. Cool story, there were very few occasions wherein I would consider prescribing scheduled meds (euphoriants, narcotics) anyhow.
I was working part time. One morning I came in, and an offecer invited me to step into his office. He showed me a dispenser pack of what looked to be 140 or more tablets, labeled “Methadone 10 mg”. The administration instructions read “take 9 tablets daily”. Holy cow! That’s 90 mg of methadone, equal in pain killing (or sedating) effect to around 1 000 mg of morphine every day. ONE THOUSAND MILLIGRAMS of morphine equivalent, every day! The medical history form related that this had been prescribed for debilitating arthritis.
The officer noted the department’s “No Narcotics” policy, and asked me, the medical authority (Hah!) present, for an opinion. I thought that placing this gentleman in the “detox”/observation cell, and obtaining and recording vitals every hour for the first 24 hours sounded prudent. I also provided a checklist of concerning symptoms to watch or. I provided my cell phone number, and directed that, if certain parameters of vitals or observation were exceeded, send him to ED by ambulance immediately. If any grey area, phone me at ny time of day or night.
So, the officers recorded vitals and made “nurse’s notes” on their guest. I came in early the next day, read the noted, and re assessed the gentleman myself. All nominal, no alarming findings. We repeated this process, now every 4 hours, and, again, the next day, I arrived early and re-re-assessed the inmate. Same nominal vitals, same unremarkable exam. This did not seem to all fit together as it had been presented.
Another day, another 24 hours of vitals and “nurse’s notes”, another benign exam.
After several days of this, the jail command suggested that , with nearly a week of normal vitals and normal exams, perhaps our guest could be moved into general population? It seemed alright to do do, and I seconded their initiative.
So, after nearly a week of no methadone, nearly a week of no abstinence symptoms, my attention wandered to other topics. One morning I arrived, and an officer beckoned me into his office. “Hey, I thought you’d want to see this!”, was his opening conversational gambit.
It turns out that there are surveillance camera throughout the jail. (Who knew?). One had captured the methadone-for-debilitating-arthritis fellow getting into an altercation with another inmate, and whupping same. That’s correct: the “debilitating arthritis” inmate, delivered a whupping onto the person of another inmate.
The officer turned to me, and observed, “I am beginning to think that that prescription is rather more of a commercial opportunity, instead of a medical intervention!”