Yesterday I attended GPCE at Melbourne. I had the opportunity of discussing buprenorphine based pharmacotherapy with a bunch of my GP colleagues. One GP came up and took a handful of sweets from the table at which I was sitting and then said to me, “I don’t want druggies at my surgery.” Before I could reply, he walked off. This is what I wanted to say to him.
Most patients with substance use disorder are grateful for the help that I give them. I would challenge anyone to spot the “druggy” sitting in my waiting room. My surgery has a zero tolerance policy towards violence and aggression. In the last twelve months I have “expelled” three people from my surgery for this kind of behaviour.
First was a woman who threatened me with legal action because I refused to agree to stop prescribing her mother diazepam to treat a new diagnosis of serotonin syndrome. Second was a woman who referred to my Vietnamese physiotherapy colleague as a “Monkey” Third was an elderly lady whom I had reported to Vic Roads.
She subsequently failed an occupational driving test and lost her licence. She came back to my clinic and berated me and accused me of deliberately lying on my original referral to Vic roads. She then threatened me with regulatory referrals.
None of these people were druggies.
The patients with substance use disorder that that I look after continue to to sit quietly in my waiting room and continue to express gratitude for the help that I am able to give them.
Author: Ferghal Armstrong
Ferghal is an experienced medical educator and teaches the subject of pharmacotherapy to other doctors.