Woman needs powerful painkillers but can't find doctor

A Winnipeg woman who requires strong painkillers to manage her rheumatoid arthritis can't find a doctor in the city willing to giver her a new prescription.
Valerie Hykawy requires a potent painkiller to manager her arthritis, and is almost out of her prescription, but can't find a doctor willing to take her on as a patient. (Courtesy Valerie Hykawy )

A Winnipeg woman who requires strong painkillers to manage her rheumatoid arthritis can't find a doctor in the city willing to giver her a new prescription.

Valerie Hykawy's doctor recently left without telling her and now she's running out of her medication, a powerful narcotic called Hydromorph contin.

Hykawy said several doctors have refused to take her on as a patient because the drug is part of the highly-addictive Oxycontin family.

Even staff at the clinic where she had been going said no one would write up that prescription.

Hykawy thinks doctors don't want to deal with the prescription because it means more paperwork and red tape, due to the drug's potency and risk for abuse.

"I understand that they have to cover their tail ends, I do understand that, but I mean they could call the pharmacy. The pharmacy has on record that I don't go begging for more medication," she said.

"I don't have more than one doctor that's writing me the same prescription."

Hykawy said there's a pain clinic in the city that could help her get her prescription, but she needs to be referred by a general practitioner.

"I just need a doctor," she said. "I would just like to find a doctor."

Case is 'troubling' 

Manitoba's College of Physicians and Surgeons said Hykawy's case is troubling.

Registar Bill Pope said doctors accepting new patients are not supposed to pick and choose whom they accept and whom they turn away.

He said, however, there are legitimate reasons for not taking on a patient who needs narcotics.

"Not all family physicians have applied to the college for permission to prescribe narcotics," he said. "In fact, many are concerned about narcotics dependence or users harassing them to get prescriptions."

Pope also said a doctor may turn down a high needs patient if the physician already has a number of similar patients.

"They shouldn't misuse that," he said. "I think in the past there have been situations where patients have been refused because the amount of work involved in looking after them might be too complex."​