ERs battle opioid crisis; say no to narcotics for patients fakin - WSMV News 4

ERs battle opioid crisis; say no to narcotics for patients faking injuries

Posted: Updated:
(WSMV file photo) (WSMV file photo)
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Emergency room doctors say the opioid crisis isn’t getting any better, especially in Tennessee.

Emergency rooms are supposed to be prepared for emergencies, but some doctors say they are seeing more and more people coming in faking pain just to get their hands on narcotics.

At Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital, empty beds are meant for people who have real emergencies. In some cases, it may be someone who only has minutes to survive without help.

But ask some doctors in the emergency room and they'll say many times the people coming in are drug addicts.

"Specifically at Saint Thomas we don't have the ability to admit someone for opiate withdrawal,” said Dr. Ali Bollinger, chief of emergency medicine at Saint Thomas Midtown.

Bollinger said many times it’s the ones they’d least expect.

“I have had grandmothers, great-grandmothers, soccer moms and CEOs,” Bollinger said.

She said they’re all coming in addicted to narcotics and looking for help.

“We are seeing more and more patients that recognize their problem, want to get help. And there are very limited resources for them, especially for the uninsured,” Bollinger said.

Doctors also say some come in faking pain just to see how many narcotics they can get. It’s a problem not only at Saint Thomas but also at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

“This is a crisis, an epidemic, an emergency,” said Dr. Andrews Pfeffer, an assistant professor of emergency medicine.

It’s an emergency Pfeffer said is getting worse.

During an eight-hour shift at Vanderbilt, Pfeffer said he sees 12 to 15 people either looking to get their hands on whatever narcotic he'll prescribe them or looking for help to get better.

"Addiction and the abuse of these drugs can happen to anyone at any time,” Pfeffer said.

Doctors say people come in mostly looking for pills, including oxycodone, hydrocodone and Percocet.

But Special Agent Tommy Farmer with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations said their biggest battle is with fentanyl, a powerful synthetic drug similar to morphine.

“We have to slow down the way we prescribe, the way we address and look at pain, and we have to change the entire culture,” Farmer said.

But he said doing that isn’t going to be easy. Whether it’s a hospital or on the street, Farmer said addicts are mixing these drugs together, making them more dangerous than they already are.

“It's Russian roulette. It’s not a matter of if, it's a matter of when. You’re going to overdose yourself if you do this, if you do this out there,” Farmer said.

"We want to do what we can to get better but we need the resources.  We need the funding in order to make that happen,” Pfeffer added.

Doctors say there is a growing need for more treatment options, better trained providers and more available funding to help battle this ongoing crisis.

Copyright 2017 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

  • Recent HeadlinesMore>>

  • Murfreesboro groups spread messages of love ahead of planned white supremacy rally

    Murfreesboro groups spread messages of love ahead of planned white supremacy rally

    Saturday, October 21 2017 11:01 PM EDT2017-10-22 03:01:05 GMT

    One week from today, League of the South -- a white supremacy group -- plans a White Lives Matter rally in downtown Murfreesboro. Several counter protests are in the works. Local faith based groups and community organizers say they want to promote a positive message of love and inclusion. 

    More >>

    One week from today, League of the South -- a white supremacy group -- plans a White Lives Matter rally in downtown Murfreesboro. Several counter protests are in the works. Local faith based groups and community organizers say they want to promote a positive message of love and inclusion. 

    More >>
  • Rep. Jim Cooper talks legislation to help DEA fight against opioids

    Rep. Jim Cooper talks legislation to help DEA fight against opioids

    Saturday, October 21 2017 10:50 PM EDT2017-10-22 02:50:24 GMT

    Tennessee lawmaker speaks about his crusade to give law enforcement the power it needs in its fight against drugs. Congressman Jim Cooper is trying to right the wrong of legislation. The DEA claims prevents them from freezing, and red flagging large shipments of opioids.

    More >>

    Tennessee lawmaker speaks about his crusade to give law enforcement the power it needs in its fight against drugs. Congressman Jim Cooper is trying to right the wrong of legislation. The DEA claims prevents them from freezing, and red flagging large shipments of opioids.

    More >>
  • Multiple people wounded during shooting at Edgehill Homes

    Multiple people wounded during shooting at Edgehill Homes

    Saturday, October 21 2017 9:23 PM EDT2017-10-22 01:23:05 GMT
    (WSMV)(WSMV)

    Police responded to a shooting at the Edgehill Homes apartment complex near 12 Ave South around 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Four male teens were non-critically injured after exchanging gunfire with other individuals in a car. It is unknown at this time how many people were in the car, and if any were injured.

    More >>

    Police responded to a shooting at the Edgehill Homes apartment complex near 12 Ave South around 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Four male teens were non-critically injured after exchanging gunfire with other individuals in a car. It is unknown at this time how many people were in the car, and if any were injured.

    More >>
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Police: Son shoots, kills mom’s friend for flirting with imaginary girlfriend

    Police: Son shoots, kills mom’s friend for flirting with imaginary girlfriend

    Thursday, October 19 2017 12:49 PM EDT2017-10-19 16:49:32 GMT
    (Photo: Pasco County Sheriff's Office)(Photo: Pasco County Sheriff's Office)

    New body cam footage has been released which shows the moments after a Florida man shot and killed his mother’s friend for flirting with his imaginary girlfriend.

    More >>

    New body cam footage has been released which shows the moments after a Florida man shot and killed his mother’s friend for flirting with his imaginary girlfriend.

    More >>
  • Thong jeans are just the latest weird fashion trend

    Thong jeans are just the latest weird fashion trend

    Friday, October 20 2017 11:27 PM EDT2017-10-21 03:27:11 GMT
    A model display creation of "thibaut" by Japanese designer Meiko Ban during the 2018 Spring/Summer Collection at the Tokyo Fashion Week in Tokyo, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)A model display creation of "thibaut" by Japanese designer Meiko Ban during the 2018 Spring/Summer Collection at the Tokyo Fashion Week in Tokyo, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

    Thong jeans. (Theans? Jongs? Thonjeangs?) Whatever you decided to call them, they’re weird and the internet is going crazy.

    More >>

    Thong jeans. (Theans? Jongs? Thonjeangs?) Whatever you decided to call them, they’re weird and the internet is going crazy.

    More >>
  • Chicago freezer death was a 'sad' accident, police chief says

    Chicago freezer death was a 'sad' accident, police chief says

    Saturday, October 21 2017 8:12 AM EDT2017-10-21 12:12:40 GMT

    Authorities have closed the investigation into the death of a young Chicago woman whose body was found in a hotel's walk-in freezer, saying it was accidental and there was no reason to suspect foul play.

    More >>

    Authorities have closed the investigation into the death of a young Chicago woman whose body was found in a hotel's walk-in freezer, saying it was accidental and there was no reason to suspect foul play.

    More >>
Powered by Frankly
WSMV
Powered by WorldNow CNN
All content © 2017, WSMV; Nashville, TN. (A Meredith Corporation Station) . All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.