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Ethics of pain management

Sandra H. Johnson, JD, offers her viewpoint in her article, Legal and Ethical Perspectives on Pain Management, published in the International Anesthesia Research Society, July 2007.

A point that Johnson makes is that pain, without a physical injury, can legally be an injury. The problem is when health care professionals neglect pain patients for fear of Federal actions, leaving the only recourse for those with chronic pain one option—legal action against the professional. Such extremes create an injustice and provide a remedy only those with the financial resources are able to pursue, which is legal action.

Johnson suggests that the greatest hope is when pain management shifts from being one of purely medical practice to a view of a public health crisis. What is needed is to change the practice of doctors treating pain as a proxy for the DEA and instead treat patients compassionately.