Pain and the Ethics of Pain Management

Social Science and Medicine 18 (6):515-523 (1984)
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In this article I clarify the concepts of ‘pain’, ‘suffering’. ‘pains of body’, ‘pains of soul’. I explore the relevance of an ethic to the clinical setting which gives patients a strong prima facie right to freedom from unnecessary and unwanted pain and which places upon medical professionals two concomitant moral obligations to patients. First, there is the duty not to inflict pain and suffering beyond what is necessary for effective diagnosis. treatment and research. Next, there is the duty to do all that can be done to relieve all the pain and suffering which can be alleviated. I develop in some detail that individuality of pain sensitivity must be taken into account in fulfihing these obligations. I explore the issue of the relevance of informed consent and the right to refuse treatment to the matter of pain relief. And I raise the question of what conditions, if anv, should override the right to refuse treatment where pain relief is of paramount concern.
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