Health Officials Worried About Big Creek Patient Withdrawals - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Health Officials Worried About Big Creek Patient Withdrawals

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HAMILTON -

Public health officials are worried patients could face dangerous withdrawal symptoms after their health clinic in Florence was shut down this week.

Federal agents raided Big Creek Family Medicine and Urgent Care on Tuesday after an investigation into a doctor's prescription writing practices.

Authorities completed their search warrant of the clinic on Thursday, but it's still unclear when patients will receive care again.

Ravalli County Public Health officials said authorities seized all patient records from Big Creek Family Medicine on Tuesday, leaving those patients unsure about when they'd be able to refill prescriptions again.

They said they're most concerned about patients who are currently on narcotics or benzodiazepine because of the severity of those medications withdrawal symptoms.

"They may experience anxiety, nausea, increased heart palpitations, sweating…"

Dr. Carol Calderwood said narcotics withdrawal is painful, but it's non-life threatening.

"Benzodiazepine can be rarely, that's like Adavan or Xanax," she said.

And pregnant women experiencing narcotics withdrawal could lose their fetus. Calderwood says that's why it's important for patients taking these drugs should begin to taper off their doses.

"It would be best to do 10% per week, but you can do as fast as 10% per day."

Calderwood said they're also concerned about the mental health of many of the patients.

"There's going to be fear around the idea of not knowing where their healthcare is going to be coming from," said Director of River Front Mental Health Center in Hamilton, Danielle Harden.

Harden said they're particularly worried about patients' having thoughts of suicide.

"Now that they're not taking certain medications that were maybe subduing some thoughts that they'd been having before," she explained.

Health officials advise Big Creek patients to consult other family practices in the area about current medications. They can also visit the ER or urgent care clinics for other health needs.

Click here to contact the Ravalli County Public Health Department or call the West House in Hamilton at 532-8990.

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