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Pain Management Expert Witness

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Pain management is a medical specialty that uses many different aspects of health care in order to help patients with chronic pain conditions. They may perform mechanical manipulations (chiropractic), prescribe and administer medications, use physical therapy techniques, or even perform certain "alternative" medicine techniques such as acupuncture.

One of AME's pain management expert witnesses has written an exclusive medical malpractice article that we have provided, for your interest, below.

Cancer Pain Management Negligence


Safe and effective chronic opioid therapy for chronic cancer related pain 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.

Although evidence is limited in many areas related to use of opioids for chronic non-cancer pain, several guidelines provide recommendations developed by multidisciplinary expert panel after a systematic review of the evidence.

Generally, narcotics are not the only modality that can be used to treat pain. Adjuvant therapies together with narcotics can be very helpful. For example, steroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen(Advil) can reduce the inflammation associated with tumors pressing on tissues, and certain anti-depressants and anti-seizure drugs can modify how the brain perceived pain and lessen it. There are also procedures, such as nerve blocks, that can be helpful when pain is localized.

Cancer pain can require very high doses of narcotics. Guidelines provide guidance and in some case, recommend a specialty pain management consultation. A diagnostic re-evaluation is often indicated to exclude cancer progression. If there is progression, the best pain management is successful treatment of the underlying disease. It may sometimes be possible to switch to a different narcotic, which reduces tolerance and allows a lower dose, or decrease total narcotic dose by using adjuvant analgesics, steroids or neuro-modifiyng drugs discussed above, but there remain situations in which very high doses are required despite all efforts.

Risk of addiction in cancer patients is very low, around 2% (Friedman et al), but several instruments can reduce it even farther: CAGE questionnaire, Cyr-Wartman Screen, Skinner Trauma Screen, Screener and Opioid Assessment for Patients. It is important to understand the distinction between addiction, a psychological syndrome, and habituation, which is the body getting used to narotics and requring higher doses. Habituation can be easily treated; addiction is much more difficutl to treat. Unfortunately, overrated fear of addiction or unwarranted anxiety about attracting the attention of the DEA, sometimes leaves patients with inadequate pain control.

Failure to provide adequate pain control to cancer patients is a deviation from the standard of care and can be grounds for a malpractice suit, or it can play a role in increasing recovery. The use of national guidelines or local state policies can be helpful to both plaintiff and defense. State pain policies can shield practitioners who have complied with the state policy, or a damn physician who have not. Some state policies are so restrictive that they automatically put the defendant at a disadvantage. An expert who is familiar with the use of guidelines and local policies can prove invaluable in the litigation of cases the involve standards of pain management.


The Hematologist/Oncologist who wrote this article had been Associate Professor of Medicine while a full-time attending at the University Hospital of a Medical School until 2009. Prior to 2004 had been an Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine. He is currently in private practice. He is first author of over thirty academic articles, chapters and several books. Over the past two decades he held the positions of Interim Chief of Hematology and Oncology, Director of the Cancer Center, Chief of Hematology and Oncology and Chief of Service and concurrently Director of the Cancer Center Network of the Health and Hospitals Corporation and Co-Director of Oncology at a University Hospital and Medical Center. He developed and ran two clinical research programs as well as a community advocacy group, a consulting group, and a non-profit educational institution. In addition to Internal Medicine and Oncology. He is Board Certified in Quality Assurance and Utilization Review and holds an MBA.

He was listed several times as the best in his specialty by the Castle Connolly Guide to America's Top Doctors.




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