Pubdate: Mon, 12 Dec 2011
Source: St. Petersburg Times (FL)
Copyright: 2011 Lodovico Balducci
Author: Lodovico Balducci


Patients Deserve Pain-Free Dignity

I practiced medicine for more than 40 years and oncology for more 
than 30. I can remember patients literally screaming from pain all 
the way to death. Based on my experience, effective pain management 
has been the most important achievement of medical care in the last 30 years.

Dr. Kathy Foley, who spearheaded this effort, is a Catholic 
neurologist who works at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. She 
has devoted her professional life, supported and inspired by her 
faith, to bringing back a human dimension (the patient perspective) 
to an increasingly technological type of medicine.

Effective pain management has been the first and essential step 
toward helping the patients and their loved ones to treasure the last 
days of life, to face the awesome mystery of death without fear of 
physical discomfort. These remarkable advances risk being erased by 
the grandstanding and cynicism of some Bible-thumping politicians. 
They have promoted a law that will make it more difficult for pain 
patients to access the proper medication and harder for physicians to 
practice compassionate, patient-centered medicine.

Given that the loss of every single human life is a tragedy, the 
prevention of an occasional overdose death is not a good reason to 
interfere with the relief of the suffering of millions of people. The 
same politicians who promise to take the government off your back 
want to use the government to deprive dying individuals of a 
dignified, pain-free death.

Lodovico Balducci, Tampa
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