Charles Passantino stared at his doctor in disbelief.
A 64-year-old patient with a crippling liver disease, Passantino had received treatment for eight years for chronic pain. He took small doses of oxycodone, a generic painkiller, to free his muscles from stiffness and swelling.
With the pills, he got by. Without them, just walking from bedroom to living room proved unbearable.
Now, with little explanation and no warning, he was being dumped.
Good luck finding another doctor, the physician said.
What happened to Passantino is a scene that has played out in medical offices across Washington, thanks to new state rules governing the prescribing of painkillers. Those rules — which, among other things, impose restrictions upon doctors once certain dosage levels are reached — have driven so many health-care providers from the field that many pain patients now struggle to find care.
What's more, hundreds if not thousands of patients have been denied life-enabling medications, cut off or turned away by doctors leery of the burdens and expense imposed by lawmakers, according to hospital representatives and consumer advocates.