Moral lessons from the jury box

Ben A Rich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


A decade ago a North Carolina jury awarded millions of dollars in damages because of a healthcare institution's failure to provide appropriate pain relief to a dying patient. In 2001, a California jury found a physician guilty of elder abuse for his failure to properly manage the pain of a cancer patient. In both instances, state licensing boards had failed to take any disciplinary action against those involved. These cases dramatically illustrate a significant and persistent gulf between the lay public and the health professions with regard to the moral significance they attach to the duty to relieve suffering. Measures to insure that all patients receive effective assessment and management of their pain must take into account this disparity, and endeavor to achieve congruence by reconnecting the health professions to their ancient and core value-the relief of suffering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-92
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Pain and Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002


  • Assessment
  • Controlled substances
  • Damages
  • Ethics
  • Law
  • Liability
  • Management
  • Narcotics
  • Pain
  • Standards

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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