Pain Control an Issue Again

August 1, 2001

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

The finding by a California jury in mid-June that a statephysicianwas guilty of elder abuse and neglect because the physicianundermedicated a terminal bone cancer patient gave new impetus to the ConqueringPain Act, a bill that was introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore) on the same dayas the California verdict. 

Similar to the bill that Sen. Wyden introduced in1999—the Pain Promotion Relief Act—the new version includes provisions topermit the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to helpdistribute educational material on pain and end-of-life care. 

The bill createssix regional family support networks to provide patients, health-care providers,and families support and information about caring for patients in pain. It alsoestablishes a website with information about evidence-based guidelines to assistclinicians caring for patients in pain, and requires the Surgeon General toprepare a report on the subject.

Julie Taylor, deputy director of public policy and practice forthe American society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), said the Wyden bill is"fine as far as it goes." ASCO is working with other patient advocacygroups to develop a more comprehensive approach, with the hope that someone inCongress will introduce it. "But we are not that far along," she said.