Patient of suspended doctor worries about continued care
STEVENSVILLE, Mont. - There's evidence of an escalating rush by patients to find a new doctor after their old one lost his license this week.
The Montana Board of Medical Examiners suspended Dr. Chris Christensen's license Monday, citing two deaths by drug overdose, and over-prescribing of controlled substances.
The doctor's clinic in Florence is closed, but no charges have been filed. It's left many patients worried and uncertain. For them, finding a doctor to meet their needs can be a challenge.
We met one of Christensen's patients, who's in a scramble to find a health care provider.
Michael Neuhaus is a former logger, carpenter and welder, Neuhaus showed NBC Montanathe scar on his back, from a roofing accident in 1997.
"Have had several surgeries on it," said Neuhaus, "was never fixed."
Neuhaus said he has been on heavy-duty pain medication for 14 years. He's on disability.
He loves working in his yard. But even a few minutes of raking leaves taxes him hard.
"I'm looking for another physician," said Neuhaus, "to treat me or at least take me in and listen to me and try to understand I am a legitimate patient."
Pharmacies can't fill Christensen's patients' prescriptions. A doctor needs to sign off on them first.
Neuhaus, with his long history of narcotic medication, may have a hard time finding a doctor, especially in a timely manner.
"I am scared to death because going without this medication," said Neuhaus, "for as long as I've been on it is extremely physically sickening."
Neuhaus was under Christensen's care for four months. The patient said he was a caring and compassionate doctor.
A Prescription for Prevention summit is scheduled in Missoula for April 16 at the Hilton Garden Inn.
Professionals who specialize in prescription drug abuse are coming together to help find a solution for the growing epidemic.
Later that night, there will be a community discussion about how to protect children from prescription drug abuse. Parents are encouraged to attend.