Expert: Pain management failing millions

Jan. 7, 2010 at 1:15 AM
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CORVALLIS, Ore., Jan. 7 (UPI) -- Millions with chronic pain are under treated due to inadequate physician training, personal biases or fear of drug abuse, a U.S. pharmaceutical expert says.

Kathryn Hahn of the College of Pharmacy at Oregon State University says adequate pain treatment is not a major part of most physicians' medical training. Even though they will often see a stream of patients with pain problems throughout their careers, doctors may only get a few hours of education on the use of opioids in medical school.

"We have more sophisticated pain management techniques available now than ever before, but many doctors are not fully informed about all the options available, and also often turn patients away because they're very concerned about the problems with prescription drug abuse," Hahn says in a statement.

Hahn suggests:

-- Doctors and nurses should accept that patients are the final arbiter of what is painful, believe them and work with them on their concerns.

-- Individuals should work and communicate patiently with their healthcare providers, not switch doctors arbitrarily, educate themselves if necessary, but be persistent in having their pain concerns taken seriously.

-- Consumers must acknowledge the seriousness of the prescription drug abuse issue and lock up their medications securely, literally in a home safe in some circumstances. The unlocked medicine cabinet is the foundation of a cottage industry of drug abuse in America today.

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