The finding by a California jury in mid-June that a state
was guilty of elder abuse and neglect because the physician
undermedicated a terminal bone cancer patient gave new impetus to the Conquering
Pain Act, a bill that was introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore) on the same day
as the California verdict.
Similar to the bill that Sen. Wyden introduced in
1999the Pain Promotion Relief Actthe new version includes provisions to
permit the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to help
distribute educational material on pain and end-of-life care.
The bill creates
six regional family support networks to provide patients, health-care providers,
and families support and information about caring for patients in pain. It also
establishes a website with information about evidence-based guidelines to assist
clinicians caring for patients in pain, and requires the Surgeon General to
prepare a report on the subject.
Julie Taylor, deputy director of public policy and practice for
the American society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), said the Wyden bill is
"fine as far as it goes." ASCO is working with other patient advocacy
groups to develop a more comprehensive approach, with the hope that someone in
Congress will introduce it. "But we are not that far along," she said.