Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pain Cannot Be Treated as The'fifth Vital Sign'

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pain Cannot Be Treated as The'fifth Vital Sign'

Article excerpt

We commend the Post-Gazette for the series "Overdosed" focusing attention on the misuse of opioid pain medication and its relationship to the growing use of nonprescription narcotics. This is a complex issue, as noted in the series.

The majority of physicians and patients use these medications for the purposes for which they are intended: the relief of acute postsurgical pain and chronic long-term pain when other medications have not provided relief. There are no simple tests for reported pain. Having long established relationships between patients and physicians does much to assure that a patient's symptoms of chronic pain are appropriately treated.

It is clear that some physicians have broken the special trust that is placed in us to be advocates for our patients and to safeguard public health, intentionally or through a lack of knowledge. …

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