The finding by a California jury in mid-June that a state physician 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.