Conclusions

Opiophobia and an ethic of undertreating pain are aspects of clinical practice that are international in scope and negatively impact all patients with pain. While physicians who regularly care for such patients continue to be at risk of close, even chilling regulatory scrutiny, and in rare cases even criminal prosecution, they now have available an unprecedented number of nationally and internationally recognized policy statements, guidelines, texts, and scientific journal articles supporting in the strongest of terms the prompt, effective, and diligent approach to pain management, with opioid analgesics as the often indispensable weapon against severe chronic pain. Clinically appropriate utilization of state-of-the-art pain management techniques, careful monitoring of patients, and scrupulous and thorough documentation should in most instances insure that healthcare professionals will not be at an unreasonable risk of adverse action when they provide their patients with the kind of sensitive, skillful, and compassionate care that they have a right to expect and that is consistent with the most ancient goal and core values of medicine - the relief of suffering.

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