Patients’ views on pain and remaining human in the hospital

There are two good patient care articles in today’s New York Times. Insurrection on the Mighty Ship of Health Care, written from a doctor’s perspective, describes the ultimately futile attempt of a patient to maintain her humanity in the hospital.

Doctors are often caught in this uneasy halfway house between medical reality and the wishes of a patient, a patient who probably knows plenty, but insists on putting on a happy face, and it raises a basic question. Is it up to us to rub a patient’s face in her own frightening situation, to overwhelm the tricks and sleights of hand used to maintain sanity?

A Fight for Full Disclosure of the Possible Pain describes the author’s experience of undertreatment for pain after knee surgery, and laments the Drug Enforcement Agency’s policies, which are causing doctors to be fearful about prescribing adequate pain relief.

[A] mass uprising by doctors and patients in support of legitimate pain treatment is overdue.

I agree.

March 8, 2005

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