Pain in society: Ethical and legal perspectives

Ben A Rich

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Introduction 99 Pain, suffering, and other semantic points 100 The physician’s duty to relieve suffering 101 The international scope of undertreated pain 102 The barriers to effective pain relief 102 Pain and the courts 110 Cnclusions 112 References 112 The commonly identified barriers to pain relief are not merely clinical in nature, but have important ethical dimensions. Particularly in the United States, the ethical implications of undertreated pain have influenced the outcome of civil suits against healthcare institutions and professionals. In the United States, physicians may be vulnerable to criminal prosecution for drug trafficking if their prescribing of controlled substances is determined not to have been a good faith effort to stay within the bounds of acceptable medical practice. Drug control laws and governmental regulations have created a hostile environment in which to care for patients with chronic pain. Recent reform initiatives seek to establish a balance in law and public policy between the need to prevent drug diversion and trafficking and the need to insure that opioid analgesics are available to patients who would benefit from them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationClinical Pain Management
Subtitle of host publicationChronic Pain, Second Edition
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781444109818
ISBN (Print)9780340940082
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Professions(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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