Vancouver’s Opioid Crisis

In 2016, there were 922 overdose deaths in British Columbia. In Vancouver, 15 people died from opioid-related overdoses in just one week alone, making it a public health emergency.

As a result of the increased number of opioid-related deaths across the Province, new guidelines based on one similar to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were established for physicians and the prescribing of opioids and other highly addictive drugs, making British Columbia the first in Canada to be bound, legally, by such guidelines. Medications such as opioids often act as a band-aid when treating chronic pain disorders or other health problems, as Dr. Ali Ghahary has written about previously, and can actually make pain worse.

Patients can often develop a high tolerance to opioids over time, which can then lead to addiction and dependency, and can also ultimately result in individuals turning to other unsafe ways to get the drug – which is often off the street, and is why we have heard of so many cases of drugs being laced with Fentanyl, or its more potent cousin, Carfentanil. Even when ingested in small amounts, these drugs can be deadly.

Under the new guidelines, physicians must sit down and discuss with patients the dangers of opioids and offer alternatives for chronic conditions such as back pain, headaches and other ailments. It is important for physicians like Dr. Ali Ghahary to also carefully analyze a patient’s personal and medical history, as some patients may be more vulnerable to addiction such as those who have been abused, or those who come from families with a history of addiction or have previously battled addiction themselves. Doctors should not only weigh the risks and benefits of opioids, but all types of medications, and should also review the patient’s PharmaNet file, as those who are prone to addiction will often do what is called “doctor-shopping” and collect multiple prescriptions from different healthcare professionals…to either get more pulls for themselves, pills to give to others, or pills to sell.

More information on the dangers of opioids and alternative treatment options for chronic pain can be found by clicking here.

Avoiding Misdiagnosis

While the exact number of misdiagnosed patients is unknown, it is, unfortunately, something that can occur in healthcare. A misdiagnosis can have devastating consequences and can even be fatal, which is why it is imperative for physicians to come up with the correct diagnosis.

In order for a diagnosis to be accurate, patients and healthcare providers, such as doctors, lab workers, nurses and other specialists, should work together as a team. It is also important for physicians to build a good rapport with patients. This will also allow for open and honest communication – something that is extremely important to Vancouver physician Dr. Ali Ghahary. On his website, alighaharyvancouver.ca, Dr. Ghahary discusses why it is so crucial to build trust in the doctor-patient relationship. In utilizing a gentle and compassionate approach, he has quickly become one of the top-rated doctors in Vancouver today.

Dr. Ali Ghahary understands that it is important to take the healthcare complaints of patients seriously.

Patients can also play a significant role in helping physicians be able to accurately diagnose any ailments…

First and foremost, never hesitate to ask questions. There is absolutely NO question that you could ask that would be considered wrong, stupid or embarrassing, especially when it pertains to your health.

Secondly, you should be precise about describing any symptoms that you may be experiencing; for example, if you have a sore eye, do not just say, “I have a sore eye.” Is it red? Itchy? Painful? Letting your doctor know exactly how you feel is of the utmost importance. You should also track your symptoms. For instance, if you suffer from chronic migraines, Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends patients keep what is known as a migraine diary. As migraine intensity and symptoms can vary from one day to the next, keeping track of them will help give your physician a better understanding of exactly how migraines affect you, what some of the common triggers are, and what kind of treatment is best suited for you. A great app to help keep track of migraines is Migraine Buddy, which is available for download on Google Play (Android) or the App Store (iPhone.)

Lastly, keep an up-to-date list of all medications. You should be aware of exactly what you’re taking and why, the dosing instructions, and you should also be aware of any potential side-effects or interactions with any other medication.