Post-op becomes a real pain in the knee

On August 26, 2023 / News

Pharmacists have been lobbying the provincial government to get on board, saying the failure to enact the exemption puts an additional administrative burden on medical practitioners and pharmacists and creates needless confusion and frustration for patients.

“Frankly, it’s a waste of health-care resources, and more importantly, it’s an inconvenience and a frustration to the patient who’s already probably going through somewhat of a stressful situation,” said Tim Smith, pharmacy practice adviser with Pharmacists Manitoba.

“We, along with the College of Pharmacists of Manitoba, have been pushing for this regulatory change because of circumstances like this, where people end up being without medication that they might really need.”

In Scott’s case, she had only extra-strength Tylenol handy during a long weekend while she scrambled to find a Manitoba practitioner who would write her the same prescription she already had from Ontario. She managed to get a new prescription from a local nurse practitioner, but not before her Ontario-prescribed hydromorphone opioid ran out.

“It created huge anxiety, not to mention unnecessary extra pain,” she said.

As for why Manitoba hasn’t enacted the federal exemption, a spokesperson for Health Minister Audrey Gordon’s office directed questions to the College of Pharmacists of Manitoba.

The college has previously stated it would “continue working with the provincial government on full implementation of these exemptions,” according to information issued to members in 2021, and posted online. A representative for the regulatory body couldn’t be reached for comment Friday.

Asked if Manitoba’s Diagnostic and Surgical Recovery Task Force has addressed concerns about prescription drug restrictions for patients who’ve gone out of province for surgery, the health minister’s office didn’t directly respond.

A government spokesperson said pre-op and post-op care is mapped out for each patient receiving medical care out of province.

“This care is supervised by a Medical Director, who is a Manitoba doctor, that oversees care pathways and any care quality issues including prescription drugs. Patients are encouraged to follow up with their Patient Navigator and/or their Manitoba provider as soon as possible, as they would if having surgery within the province.”

Scott’s surgery went well. She was admitted to the Fort Frances hospital at about 8:30 a.m. Aug. 2 and discharged at 5:30 p.m. the same day. She and her husband stayed overnight at a hotel afterward before hitting the road for a roughly six-hour drive home. After the surgery, she was given a 48-hour nerve block via a catheter into her knee, which worked to dull her pain temporarily. Her supply of prescribed painkillers she’d had filled at a Fort Frances pharmacy — $110 paid for out of pocket — was intended to last about three days. But Scott rationed the pills. She’d been given a refill order with her prescription, but the refill couldn’t be provided until a certain amount of time had passed, so she was required to wait until after she returned home to get more medication.

She now describes her experience as “pain mismanagement” and said the prescription problem is an oversight that needs to be corrected.

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