What Is Adequate and Appropriate Pain Treatment?

William G. White, MD
JAMA. 1996;275(17):1311. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530410024018.
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To the Editor.  —Dr Hill1 notes that efforts to ensure adequate treatment of pain have been less than completely successful. In this context, the practices of certain medical disciplinary and law enforcement bodies should be examined for the chilling effect they may have on physicians' prescribing of adequate pain relief. I personally know 3 physicians who have suffered respectively substantial legal expenses, loss of license, and imprisonment as a result of well-intended, although possibly imprudent, prescribing of narcotics to patients in pain.At a time when illegal drugs are available on many street corners and in schools, it is ludicrous to devote law enforcement resources to tracking and prosecuting physicians whose occasionally injudicious prescribing of narcotics may comprise a minuscule portion of this nation's drug tragedy. This practice and the fear it produces among other physicians must surely be considered as a possible factor in the inadequate prescribing of


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