Thursday, August 26, 2004

Pain-control treatment found in need of reform



By Tim Bonfield
Enquirer staff writer

Too many people in Ohio with terminal illnesses and severe chronic pain are not getting proper pain-control treatment, according to a state task force report released Wednesday.

There's a widespread shortage of pain-management specialists, especially in rural areas. Too many people, including patients and doctors, worry too much about the potential risks of addiction posed by narcotic pain medications. And families providing care to dying or chronically ill relatives need much more support than they get now.

These are some of the many findings made by the Ohio Compassionate Care Task Force, which was created in 2002 after a bill was passed declaring assisted suicide to be against state policy.

The task force, which included more than 40 participants, made nearly 30 recommendations, ranging from improving how doctors are trained to urging that regulations be rewritten to make it easier for hospice organizations and doctors involved in pain management to do their jobs.

The report estimates that 931,000 adults and 231,000 children in Ohio suffer from severe chronic pain. That includes as many as 35 percent of people with cancer who suffer from uncontrolled pain and as many as 47 percent of people with chronic pain from non-cancer conditions, said Dr. Warren Wheeler, co-chairman of the task force.

A full copy of the report can be found at http://www.ohiopaininitiative.org.

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E-mail tbonfield@enquirer.com




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