National Hospice and Palliative Care Month
November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month. Here's a roundup of books that relate to pain management and end-of-life care and decisions:
End-of-Life Decision Making: A Cross-National Study edited by Robert H. Blank and Janna C. Merrick
Experts from twelve countries analyze death-related issues and policies in their respective nations, discussing such topics as health care costs, advance directives or wills, pain management, and cultural, social, and religious factors.
Conflicts of Conscience in Health Care: An Institutional Compromise by Holly Fernandez Lynch
Lynch argues that doctor-patient matching on the basis of personal moral values would eliminate, or at least minimize, many conflicts of conscience, and suggests that state licensing boards facilitate this goal. Licensing boards would be responsible for balancing the interests of doctors and patients by ensuring a sufficient number of willing physicians such that no physician’s refusal leaves a patient entirely without access to desired medical services. This proposed solution, Lynch argues, accommodates patients’ freedoms while leaving important room in the profession for individuals who find some of the capabilities of medical technology to be ethically objectionable.
Understanding Pain: Exploring the Perception of Pain by Fernando Cervero
Cervero reminds us that pain is the most common reason for people to seek medical attention, but that it remains a biological enigma. It is protective, but not always. Its effects are not only sensory but also emotional. There is no way to measure it objectively, no test that comes back positive for pain; the only way a medical professional can gauge pain is by listening to the patient’s description of it. The idea of pain as a test of character or a punishment to be borne is changing; prevention and treatment of pain are increasingly important to researchers, clinicians, and patients. Cervero’s account brings us closer to understanding the meaning of pain.
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