‘The Undertreatment and Neglect of Pain’ Focus of TU Lecture

Wednesday, October 13, 1999

Published on 10/13/99

"The Undertreatment and Neglect of Pain" will be the topic of a free public lecture to be held at The University of Tulsa’s Allen Chapman Activity Center on Thursday, October 21, at 7:30 p.m.

In 1998, the Oklahoma legislature passed an amendment which affects every citizen of the state in one way or another, yet few are even aware of its existence. The amendment alters the Oklahoma statutes regulating narcotics and dangerous drugs to encourage physicians to apply up-to-date knowledge and treatment to improve the quality of life for those patients who suffer from pain.

The importance of this amendment will be the focus of the lecture at TU. This is the first opportunity for a multidisciplinary audience of physicians, patients, attorneys, nurses, social workers and members of the general public to examine these guidelines against the backdrop of the national effort to improve the treatment of pain.

Professor Sandra Henneken Johnson, provost of Saint Louis University, will be the keynote speaker. During her tenure as national president of the American Society of Law, Medicine, and Ethics, Johnson spearheaded a multi-year project funded by the Mayday Fund and the Emily Davie and Joseph S. Kornfeld Foundation, to address legal and regulatory barriers to effective pain relief.

Also on hand to discuss the specific ramifications of the amendment on their particular areas of expertise will be Dr. Morand El Rahab, M.D., a pallative care specialist; Dr. Gerald Zumwalt, M.D., representing the Oklahoma State Board of Medical Licensure; and Betty Holman, Executive Director of Hospice of Green Country. Marguerite Chapman, TU professor of law and director of TU’s health law program will moderate.

Under Johnson’s leadership, a proposed model state "Pain Relief Act" was drafted by the Project on Legal Constraints on Access to Effective Pain Relief and two national conferences were held to examine a wide spectrum of issues in pain management.

Last month, Dr. Paul A. Bilder, M.D., a pulmonologist practicing in Oregon, became the first physician in the nation to be disciplined by a state medical licensure board for failing to prescribe adequate pain medications for some of his patients. According to American Medical News, the Oregon Board of Medical Examiners found Dr. Bilder to have engaged in "unprofessional or dishonorable conduct" and "gross negligence or repeated negligence" by doing too little to treat his patients’ pain.

Both state and national efforts to improve the treatment of patients who suffer from intractable pain will be highlighted on the TU program. The proposed federal "Pain Relief Promotion Act of 1999," sponsored by U.S. Senator Don Nickles (R-OK) and New York Congressman Henry Hyde in a second attempt to block the continued implementation of the Oregon assisted suicide law, will be examined.

The lecture is in conjunction with the "Elder Care: Critical Issues for Family Members" conference to be held at TU on Friday, October 22. For more information on the lecture or the conference, call TU’s Continuing Legal Education Office at (918) 631-2210.

The conference is co-sponsored by the TU College of Law and the TU Law and Medicine Society with the support of Tulsa Senior Services and Hospice of Green Country.