JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It's not too often you hear a physician be openly critical of his fellow doctors. But Dr. Ray Pomm believes he's seen too much to stay mute.
At issue? Prescription drug addiction. Dr. Pomm said while some doctors are responsible, too many are mishandling the situation.
First, who's Dr. Pomm? He's a medical doctor, an addiction psychiatrist, the medical director at River Region treatment facility in Jacksonville and he's treated addicts for more than 30 years.
His criticism comes the same day the Journal of the American Medical Society (JAMA) reports that drug overdose deaths are up for the 11th straight year, mainly from accidents involving addictive painkiller "despite growing attention to risks from these medicines."
Dr. Pomm blames -- in part -- doctors. And his criticism is sharp.
He said we have three groups of doctors. Some are pill mill "crooks" pulling in the dough. "They just need to be in prison," Dr. Pomm said.
And, indeed, the state is cracking down on pill mills.
The second group are the doctors you trust when you're in legitimate pain. "... you have the ignorant doctor," Dr. Pomm said. "And that's the doctors who don't know enough ... because we're not training them properly."
And the third group? Dr. Pomm said we have "the doctors that just don't care." He blames them for being so busy and so bent on wanting their patients to "leave happy" that they just write prescriptions in a hurry without delving into the case enough to spot trouble or explain potential addiction.
His criticism is especially stinging for the doctors who send patients home with too many pills. He said rarely do patients need prescriptions of highly addictive painkillers for months at a time. He said doctors should be more responsible and just write for a few day's worth.
He is glad to see that Florida is part of 40+ states now with a drug data base.
Florida lawmakers OK'ed the system, which went active two-and-a-half years ago.
But how many health professionals are registered for the PDMP (Prescription Drug Monitoring Program)?
Here's the latest from the PDMP Annual Report: "Roughly 9.4 percent of all medical doctors and osteopathic physicians and 3.3 percent of dentists have registered as of September 30, 2012." Also, just over 34.6 percent of pharmacists have registered.
Obviously, by far, most doctors in Florida haven't even signed up.
The idea is to help them check if a patient is "doctor shopping" for pills and potentially save them from addiction and agony.
Dr. John Armstrong, Florida Department of Health Surgeon General, said he's encouraged about the database. He calls it a "beginning."
"The PDMP was used by physicians and pharmacists 2.6 million times to guide their prescribing and dispensing decisions for patients," he said.
If you are worried you may be hooked to painkillers or other prescription drugs or you see signs of addiction in someone you care about, experts say get help right away.
You can call addiction experts Friday, February 22nd and get advice for free. Our phone panel on First Coast News will run from 5 to 6:30 pm.
Also, here are some resources:
INTENSIVE OUTPATIENT PROGRAMS
Breakthroughs Counseling & Recovery Inc. (904) 739-2152
3810 Williamsburg Park Blvd, Jacksonville, FL
Greenfield Center (904) 389-37843
Shircliff Way, Jacksonville, FL
Awakening Recovery Center (904) 733-7383
Jacksonville Metro Treatment (904) 398-7015
3609 Emerson St, Jacksonville, FL
INPATIENT AND OTHER LEVELS OF TREATMENT
Lakeview (904) 642-9349
8889 Corporate Square Ct, Jacksonville, FL
Stepping Stones Treatment Center (904) 446-1041
1815 Corporate Square Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32216
Wekiva Springs Center (904) 296-3533
3947 Salisbury Rd, Jacksonville, FL
PUBLICLY ASSISTED TREATMENT PROGRAMS
River Region Human Services (904) 899-6300
390 Park St, Jacksonville, FL
Gateway Community Services Inc. (904) 387-4661
555 Stockton St, Jacksonville, FL 32204
Gateway Community Services Inc. (904) 739-1922
1754 University Blvd W, Jacksonville, FL
YOUNG ADULT TREATMENT OPTION
Teen Challenge (904) 647-6358
3333 Phillips Hwy, Jacksonville, FL
12-STEP SUPPORT GROUPS
Narcotics Anonymous (904) 358-6262
Alcoholics Anonymous Northeast Florida Intergroup Services
SUPPORT GROUPS FOR LOVED ONES
Al-Anon (904) 350-0600
Jacksonville, FL 32202
First Coast News