PAIN MANAGEMENT: Is Children’s Suffering Too Great?
The push for medical professionals to do more to ease the pain, depression, anxiety and discomfort of children undergoing aggressive therapies is the focus of a 30-minute film, titled "Less Pain, More Love." The project, undertaken by documentary filmmaker Ruth Yorkin Drazen, comes in the wake of New England Journal of Medicine study last February finding that in the final month of their lives, 90% of children with cancer "had suffered greatly," despite pain management efforts. Adding to the problem is that there are few doctors and hospices that specialize in pediatric palliative care. Further, doctors are hesitant to "abandon aggressive therapy until shortly before a child's death" because of high treatment success rates. Additionally, "inadequate training in pain management and the fear of addicting children to narcotics" are other explanations, according to the NEJM study. Drazen is hoping to change that by increasing awareness among hospital staff and health care providers by promoting the idea that "child patients deserve adult respect." The video, which was designed as a teaching tool for hospitals and parents, opens with a shot of a young boy, with "tears streaking his face, staring in terror at the IV line being readied for him" and emphasizes a "listen-to-the-patient, involve-the-parent message." Drazen said, "Our medical system at this time does not really allow for the kind of dialogue doctors and patients should have when dealing with chronic or catastrophic illness." The film was shown at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center as part of the hospital's weekly Pain and Palliative Care session (Fine, New York Daily News, 4/23).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.