In recent years patient's rights for appropriate treatment for pain have been expanded. First patients suffering from cancer pain were given the right to expect adequate treatment for the pain of terminal cancer. Later this was broadened to include pain treatment for any cancer related pain. Finally nonmalignant acute and chronic pain were incorporated into the idea of a patient's rights to be treated for pain.
Fortunately the area of pain medicine has been expanding in recent years and many innovative medications, procedures and psychosocial interventions are now available. Attitudes at most State Medical Boards have also changed, from a sense of punishing physicians for using strong pain medications to encouraging them to become educated in their use and to use them as needed. Education for physicians has taken place in post residency fellowships, continuing medical education courses from the American Academy of Pain Medicine and the American Pain Society, and pharmaceutical company sponsored educational programs about pain treatment. Among this last group Purdue Frederick, Endo, Searle, Park-Davis, Forrest, Cephalon and Pfizer have all become involved in helping physicians understand the expanding role of pain control in their practices. Companies such as Medtronic have diligently devoted their research and educational efforts to provide new device based methods of controlling intractable pain. Hospitals are working with government and private resources to create inpatient pain services. Individual medical practitioners and group practices are beginning to develop pain treatment strategies into their own treatment routines. Board Certification in Pain Medicine is now an available medical subspecialty.
Still recent statistics show that many patients with or without cancer receive inadequate pain control. It is important for patients and their families to work with treating physicians to secure adequate pain treatment, either under the direct care of the treating doctor or by referral to Pain Medicine Specialists.