Oncology and Opioids (2005)

Click to access 10-Oncology2005.pdf

The Legal Liability of Under Treatment of Pain (page 124)

Well recognized that physician’s fear of regulatory scrutiny (DEA, State Medical Boards, health plans) is a major contributor to the problem of under-treatment of pain.

85-year-old California man with metastatic lung carcinoma spent the final week of his life in severe pain. Three years after his death his children sued his doctor alleging that the physician had failed to prescribe drugs powerful enough to relieve their father’s suffering. This was the first U.S. case in which a provider has gone to trial for allegedly undertreating a patient’s pain. By a 9 to 3 vote the jury decided that the physician’s lack of attention to pain constituted elder abuse and awarded the family $1.5 million (later reduced to $250,000). To win, lawyers convinced the jury that care was “reckless negligence.”

Opioid Good News (page 130)

>Very effective analgesics
>Relieve anxiety
>Improve mood
>No evidence of major organ toxicity with long-term use
>No clinical evidence of long lasting changes in CNS

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