Wednesday, May 13, 2009

You down with PCP (yeah, you know me)

It cannot be stressed enough - the 30th patient of the day must not - repeat not - be difficult. That patient could be clinically complicated but personally reasonable or that patient could have a "gimme" diagnosis. NewFNP's favorite is UTI, but she could go for an otitis media or a fungal derm as well.

NewFNP isn't sure how to triage for this when scheduling appointments, but if she could develop an algorithm for optimal patient scheduling that ruled out end of day challenges, she could retire and buy an S4 and some Tory Burch tunics.

As newFNP perused patient #30's chart before entering the room at 4:40 to begin said patient's complete physical, she noted that another provider had charted "PCP abuse."

PCP? NewFNP glanced at her watch. She had not, in fact, used her flux capacitor and time travelled back to 1983. It was firmly 2009. She imagined that the demand for PCP would be minimal and that this patient's dealer might have a 2-for-1 special or a sign that screamed, "PCP - no waiting!!" whereas the lines for meth and crack would loop around the block. Of course, truly, newFNP has no frigging idea about PCP procurement. And even more significantly, she has no idea about PCP addiction treatment.

So newFNP goes about the social and medical histories which, as one might imagine, were both colorful and sad, and got around to asking about the PCP. She had been smoking PCP on and off for over 20 years.

"When was the last time you used PCP?" newFNP asked?

"Well, it stays in your system for a long time," #30 replied.

Hmmmm. It's an answer, yes, but it's an answer to an entirely different question.

"Oh, OK," newFNP responded. "So about how long ago was the last time you used PCP?"

"I want to stop," #30 replied. "It's hard to be a mom."

NewFNP imagines that it is hard to be a mom and that anyone would want to stop PCP use. Still, that nagging little question was stuck in newFNP's craw. NewFNP acknowledged her patient's desire to stop and assured her that she would receive a referral to behavioral health/addiction medicine treatment. But she had to ask.

"I'm sorry but I'm still unclear as to the last time you used PCP," newFNP gently prodded.

"I told you already!" #30 exclaimed.

"I don't think you did," newFNP stated. "You told me that you wanted to stop and that PCP stays in your system for quite some time. But I don't know how long ago you used."

"A month ago," she stated, as easy as 1-2-3.

The thing about PCP is that its lore is full of horror stories - people thinking they can fly while intoxicated, people exhibiting superhuman strength, people having delusions and behaving violently. And it's an hallucinogen, a class of drugs for which there is a paucity of documented treatment modalities.

So, after a month of not using in the face of all the same life stressors as are always there, how does someone maintain abstinence?

NewFNP gave her a counseling referral and some encouragement, but that's not really enough. Unfortunately, it's all many primary care providers have to give. Mental health and addiction treatments are expensive and not adequately covered under insurance plans and certainly not under this woman's public insurance plan.

Maybe newFNP should refer people to Intervention - let Jeff or Candy give it a whirl.


LilSass said...

Funny thing: when I moved to DC and heard that PCP usage was all the rage I said to hundred different people, "I'm sorry, what? It ain't the 80s." I heard time and time again that it never "went out of style". It's cheap, easy to make and helps young black men feel superhuman. Oy.

I have since learned that "dippers" are cigarettes dipped in liquid PCP, dried out and smoked. Odorless, colorless smoke with the look of a cigarette. Brilliant. And horrifically dangerous. *sigh*

I LOVE Intervention.

P.S. Two weeks from today I start nursing school. Woohooo!!

BostonFNP said...

So, I read "PCP abuse" and immediately thought that this person somehow verbally or physically abused their previous primary care provider, and you were reading a little warning in their chart. Good lord! My very modern heroin using patient panel is clearly messing with my mind!

futureWHNP said...

i thought the same as Boston! i really thought you were going to get smacked around!

Rockenheimer said...

Hey hey, the flux capacitor wasn't invented before 1985! lol