Wednesday, May 23, 2012

New Pain Relief Guidelines in the UK.

BBC news medical correspondent, Fergus Walsh, reported on the new pain relief guidelines that were recently released in the UK by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE).

The new guidelines acknowledge that many people with cancer and other painful conditions have been under-treated for pain. The NICE guidelines should eliminate under-treatment of pain while providing greater patient safety.

The NICE guidelines encourage the use of stonger Opioids to control pain. The BBC news article stated:
NICE - the National Institute for Clinical Excellence - says "misinterpretations and misunderstanding" have surrounded the use of strong opioids for decades, which has resulted in errors "causing under-dosing and avoidable pain, or overdosing and distressing adverse effects".

There is also the legacy of Dr Harold Shipman who used diamorphine to murder his victims. It has made many doctors wary of prescribing strong opioids.

NICE says the aim is to improve both pain management and patient safety.
The NICE guidelines are attempting to eliminate under-treatment. The BBC news article quoted Mike Bennett, St. Gemma's professor of palliative medicine at the University of Leeds who said:
"Almost half of patients with advanced cancer are under-treated for their pain, largely because clinicians are reluctant to use strong opioids."

The issue also applied to the late stages of other conditions such as heart failure and neurological disorders.
The NICE guidelines encourage communication with patients especially in relation to the concern about addiction. Dr. Damien Longson, Chair of the NICE Guideline Development Groups told BBC news:
"People worry they can become addicted, particularly if opioids are prescribed over an extended period of time. This guideline puts a strong emphasis on good communication between healthcare professionals and patients, which is key to ensuring any worries or uncertainties are addressed with timely and accurate information."
The proper use of strong opioids eliminates the fear that doctors will abuse opioids to kill their patients by euthanasia. Many people have wrongly equated the use of strong opioids with euthanasia. The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition recently released the document "Protecting People" that clearly distinguishes the difference between euthanasia and the proper use of pain management drugs.

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