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Doctors May Fail to Properly Manage Pain in Cancer Patients

Our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys have often shared information on one particular invidious form of medical malpractice-the failure to diagnose cancer in a timely fashion. As we’ve explained, time is of the essence when it comes to long-term outcomes following a cancer diagnosis. Medical professionals cannot work miracles, and often they simply cannot discover the condition soon enough to avoid any long term problems. However, in far more cases than acceptable, medical teams do not act appropriately, failing to catch cancer when reasonable doctors would have caught it. This often includes failure to conduct basic tests or mistakes in the reading of those tests. When this occurs local residents should consult with legal professionals to better understand how the law might apply in their case.

Most discussions of medical malpractice and cancer center on those diagnostic issues.

However, there are other issues in cancer treatment which may implicate medical neglect-improper pain control during cancer treatments. An article from American Medical Experts touched on these concerns. Referred to as “chronic opioid therapy,” this pain treatment, according to medical experts, “requires clinical skills and knowledge in both the principles of opioid prescribing and on the assessment and management of risks associated with opioid abuse, addiction, and diversion.” There are also various guidelines from expert panels that provide basic recommendation on how to handle these issues.

In other words, managing these pain programs for cancer patients is not necessarily some roughshod process whereby doctors randomly dole out prescription whenever they think appropriate to a patient. There is a right way and a wrong way to do it-one that accounts for the very powerful addictive forces of the drugs and understanding of the possibility for abuse and addiction.

Each Illinois medical malpractice lawyer at our firm was interested to read that pain treatment in this context does not revolve entirely around powerful narcotics. The story notes, for example, that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen can be an important part of these therapies, because they can reduce inflammation connected to tumors that are pressing on tissues. Similarly, there are apparently various procedures called nerve blocks which are often helpful ways to relieved localized pain without resorting to opioids.

Of course cancer pain treatment undeniably often requires significant narcotics usage. However, there are very different ways to handle the overall narcotic usage depending on how the cancer progresses. At times it is necessary to switch to different narcotics to reduce tolerance helping to allow a lower dose. Other tools can be used to lower dosages while keeping the same medication.

All of this is simply another reminder that medical professionals should act reasonably in regard to all of these issues, including managing cancer pain treatment issues. Like all patients on these drugs, there is a risk of addiction. That risk isn’t necessarily high when properly managed, but for those who develop unnecessary dependencies the ramifications can be significant. Failure to properly control pain may involve medical negligence, because it could indicate a breach of basic standards of care. If you suspect you might have been harmed in this way, be sure to reach out to a legal professional to share your story.

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