East TN man fighting mistaken drug test results

Investigations

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A disabled East Tennessee man has been kicked out of his pain clinic, leaving him devastated.

A letter says their former patient had marijuana in his system and opiates that weren’t prescribed.

All he wants is a follow-up test to prove his innocence.

Because of the widespread abuse of opiates, pain clinics in Tennessee are required to follow strict guidelines set up by the state. If a patient is found out of compliance following a urine test, they can be dismissed from the clinic.

Twice a day, Clara Fields carefully dispenses pain medication that her husband of 56 years desperately requires. For years, Melvin Fields has been racked by pain from kidney stones — over 300 stones have passed through his system.

Additionally, he has to deal with a cancerous lesion recently removed from his nose. The retired cook says he depends on prescribed morphine and oxycodone to dull the pain from the stones.

“A tumor is mashing on my spinal cord like a brick,” said Melvin Fields. “A calcified tumor.”

The tumor hasn’t been removed. Melvin and Clara say they live a conservative life, free of alcohol and tobacco. Yet, he finds himself without the pain medications he depends on, because he failed a routine urine test administered in late August.

The test results state he had marijuana in his system – which the Fields wholeheartedly dispute because Melvin isn’t a smoker and says he’s never smoked marijuana.

“He’s never even smoked a cigarette in this life, he’s not a smoking person. We don’t know anything about marijuana,” Clara Fields says.

He also had never heard of the opioids stated to be in his system at the time of testing: Oxymorphone and Noroxycodone.

Medical professionals tells WATE 6 On Your Side that Oxymorphone is a narcotic to relieve severe pain in people whose pain is not controlled with other medications, while Noroxymorphone is an opioid which is both a metabolite of oxymorphone and oxycodone.

Strangely, Melvin says the very drugs prescribed to him don’t show up on the test results – morphine and Oxycodone.

Clara Fields says the letter dismissing her husband from the pain clinic came as a shock.

“I was afraid to even show him the letter. For them to tell Melvin, for him to get this letter in the mail, to say he’s on these other drugs, that is not true and it really makes me mad,” she says.

Worse yet for Melvin, his supply of morphine and Oxycodone was low when we met. He says he was never given a chance to ask for a follow-up urine test. The Fields went back to the doctor’s office to try and prove it, but they told them they couldn’t see Melvin because he had been dismissed.

Since we first interviewed the couple, we have talked with several medical professionals — they don’t know Melvin, but they’re familiar with unexpected urine drug test results.

Their conclusion: Mr. Fields should have been given a second test. But they agreed that it is not surprising he was dismissed from the clinic considering the scrutiny pain management doctors are under.

For Melvin, WATE’s Don Dare got in touch with the Area Agency on Aging. The agency has arranged for special care to begin next month for him. Also, a second urine screening is scheduled soon.

“I want him to get the help he needs,” Clara says of her husband.

Urine drug testing is an important part of managing long-term opioid therapy. With the recent increase in deaths caused by overdoses, federal and state regulations have recommended, or require, urine drug testing in patients receiving long-term opioid therapy.

Now, according to the Pain News Network, a nonprofit independent service, urine screening tests can go wrong.

The pain network says no doctor should base a treatment decision, solely on the results of a single, negative test.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

WATE 6 On Your Side Twitter