Many indicators suggest that care of the dying in Oregon has been improving over the past decade. However, results from a recent study suggest that one aspect of care of the dying, pain management, may be worsening. In late 1997, family reports of moderate and severe pain in dying hospitalized patients increased from 33% to 57%. This occurred during a volatile time in the Oregon political climate associated with events surrounding a second vote on physician-assisted suicide. In order to better understand the observed increase better, a state-wide sample of physicians and nurses was surveyed to obtain their opinions about factors that may have contributed to the increased family reports of moderate and severe pain in dying hospitalized patients. Seventy-nine percent of respondents endorsed two or more factors as partial explanations. These factors include an increase in family expectations about pain management (endorsed by 96%), decreased physician prescribing (endorsed by 66%), and reduced nurse administration of pain medication (endorsed by 59%). Physicians who thought reduced physician prescribing was a partial factor rated fears of the Board of Medical Examiners and the Drug Enforcement Administration as the most likely explanations for decreased prescribing. More research is needed to better understand family expectations for end-of-life care, fears of investigation, and pain medication practices.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine