angryJudge Schroeder Jr. said the potential for a crisis was serious enough to warrant a major change in Gosy’s bail. Dr. Gosy will now be able to return to his practice and, under the direction of a supervising physician, make recommendations on the use of painkillers and other narcotics.

Judge Schroeder Jr. is quoted as saying “What’s the alternative – do nothing and make 10,000 people suffer?” With patients not having access to Gosy’s practice or a suitable alternative, the judge said, he worries about their health and the impact on their pain from illnesses and injuries.

“You created a danger, as well,” Schroeder told federal prosecutors.

Eugene J. Gosy, MDDr. Gosy’s office had been kept open using three doctors. Dr. Robert A. Milch, one of the three doctors, predicted that the office would close within two weeks and said the only way to keep it open is for Gosy to return. He said Gosy’s experience and expertise are crucial to the treatment of his patients’ complex medical problems. The doctor also warned of a “veritable tsunami” of chronic pain patients flooding the community looking for care if Gosy’s practice were allowed to shut down.

Prosecutors opposed Gosy’s request. What prosecutors are against is giving Gosy the ability to prescribe narcotics or ask others to prescribe them on his behalf.

This decision affected 10,000 patients. But what about smaller practices that get closed down? What about practices of 1000 patients, or 500, or even the 150 patients in my practice when it closed? Does their suffering not matter? Is it only government fear of what 10,000 hurting people could do to a community trying to find treatment that mattered?

The important statement here is Shroeder’s statement to the prosecution that they created a danger. Every DEA action and government prosecution of a pain management physician in this country creates a danger. And it is high time that precedence be set stating that danger. Now we just have to get the country to understand that every life matters, not just a large number in one place.

When my practice was forced to close the first time in 2006, I walked into an exam room with a patient. He was the image of a Hell’s Angel—black leather motorcycle jacket, doo rag, braided hair, tattoos all over his neck and visible body parts, and very muscular. I told him I was being forced to close. He immediately began sobbing uncontrollably. It was hard to see a grown man looking like he did cry. But any embarrassment on his part didn’t show. Just fear and despair. He told me I was the sixth pain management clinic he had gone to that was closed—and probably the last one available to him. “What am I going to do?” he sobbed. I had no answer for him, only sympathy.

Two weeks later I received his death certificate to sign. It listed heart attack as the immediate cause, but I knew that was the result of the real cause—chronic pain and despair.