Pediatrician Julie Kim prefers to recommend medical marijuana to some of her patients occasionally. She is concerned about prescribing an opioid-based medication to some patients. Much of her decision is based upon the fact that there isn’t an adolescent or pediatric pain management clinic in the state.
Dr. Kim is not a pain management specialist, New Hampshire Public Radio reports. She is also uncomfortable prescribing opioids for pediatric patients due to the current opioid epidemic. She claims that some of the patients’ parents were using the prescriptions instead of the children.
Given that she cannot always ascertain if a pediatric patients’ pain is real or if the parents just want the drug for themselves, recommending medical marijuana removes that liability and responsibility from her. She says that children don’t often suffer from chronic pain, which is why it is a concern for her to prescribe pain medication.
According to Dr. Kim, only about 30 pain management centers catering to children exist in the U.S.
Other pediatricians appear to be on board with Dr. Kim’s perception. Before prescribing a pain medication for a child, she does her homework by checking medical records, reviewing MRIs, x-rays and other types of imaging. She also knows which of her patients are undergoing surgical procedures and may need pain medication temporarily. She says that most of the time, children with a serious injury or are recovering from a procedure/surgery only need the pain medication for a short amount of time, but she becomes concerned with additional requests for more prescriptions are requested for several weeks at a time.
So far, she hasn’t encountered any parents that have been opposed to her recommending medical marijuana to manage their child’s pain. Again, she believes it could be because the parent has a pain issue themselves and wants to have access to medical marijuana or are already a medical marijuana patient.
One of the benefits for her as a doctor is the time it takes for a recommendation to be approved. It’s not immediate like it is with filling a prescription for opioids at a pharmacy. The family has to pay for medical marijuana and wouldn’t have to pay for health insurance covered-opioids. This is another positive for the doctor.
Parents can become caregivers for their children. Strict background checks and other processes have to be completed before a recommendation is approved by the state.