Do Doctors Undertreat Pain?

Bioethics 11 (3-4):246-255 (1997)
Abstract
At graduation, some North American medical students repeat the Prayer of Maimonides "never to forget that the patient is a fellow creature in pain, not a mere vessel of disease." [2] How could a physician ever forget that a patient is in pain? Don't physicians confront constant reminders­moans, groans, winces, and other obvious manifestations of pain? Yes, but it is those very "reminders," as I shall explain, that provoke at least two kinds of forgetting common among physicians­one, psychological and the other, conceptual. The psychological kind of forgetting is primarily self-protective, but the conceptual kind has deeper roots in the very definition of modern Medicine as curative and life-preserving. If my analysis is right, more lecture time on pain and pain relief in medical schools will do little to correct this "forgetting" of pain. But there may be better remedies for pain-forgetting, some already at work in North American medical practices.
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