As a result of the closure of 29 Lags Medical Centers, which operate high-volume pain management clinics in California, emergency departments in 16 counties may see high numbers of patients needing prescription refills.
The affected counties include Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Kern, Tulare, Kings, Monterey, Santa Cruz, Fresno, Madera, Merced, Alameda, Stanislaus, San Joaquin, and Sacramento.
The Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) is working with health plans and community organizations to create transition plans for the patients. However, because Lags Medical Centers advertises over 30,000 patients served in California, the department anticipates that many patients may have difficulty obtaining new pain management providers, given the sudden closures and the high volume of affected patients.
The department has suggested providing bridging prescriptions to prevent withdrawal in patients using controlled medications for pain — when medically necessary — to allow them to avoid withdrawal symptoms until they can find a new prescriber. Hospitals are asked to notify their medical staff and to consider prescribing buprenorphine and naloxone, when medically necessary and appropriate.
Because patients may have difficulty finding new providers, as there is a national shortage of pain management providers, DHCS has provided a list of resources that could be used to connect patients to additional access sites for treatment.