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Semin Oncol Nurs. 1989 May;5(2):114-9.

Ethical issues in pain management.


Dr Albert Schweitzer is reported to have stated, "We must all die. But that I can save ... [someone] from days of torture, that is what I feel is my great and ever new privilege". If, in spite of their anecdotal texture, the reflections in this article challenge my clinical colleagues to further hard reflection, comparison, or contrast with their own professional experience, they will have been worthwhile. If our collective experiences view pain management as a clinical-ethical issue, then no patient should ever have to bear pain due to the ignorance or apathy of well-intentioned but misinformed caregivers. I conclude with the words of Judith Spross, an oncology nurse: Pain is an emergency for the person who experiences it regardless of the urgency of the underlying pathology. I believe we must apply the science and art of pain relief as though life depended upon it. Certainly the quality of life does.

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