Pain Med 2012 Sep 8;13(9):1152-61. Epub 2012 Aug 8.
Division of Neurology and Integrative Pain Medicine, ProHEALTH Care Associates, LLP, Lake Success, NY 11042, USA.
Objective: There are many external influences in today's market force that impair the relationship between the pain medicine specialist and the patient, and ultimately prevent optimal quality of care. This article explores the ethical challenges facing the pain medicine specialist in today's increasingly "business" environment and will offer solutions for maintaining the professionalism of pain medicine.
Discussion: Four commonly encountered bioethical principles in the practice of pain medicine are reviewed: beneficence, nonmaleficence, justice, and autonomy. The following ethical challenges of the pain medicine specialist are reviewed: practicing outside ones specialty area, practice characteristics, the consultant role, the economic lure of aggressive intervention, not evaluating for and treating comorbid psychopathology, reimbursement pressures, workers' compensation, and use of unproven methods.
Conclusions: Solutions offered include collegial associations, social responsibility, legislative initiatives, pain education, interdisciplinary evaluation and treatment, improved relationships with third-party payers, reduced racial disparities, and ethics education. Ethics is the "roadmap" that enables the pain medicine specialist to navigate the increasingly murky waters of practicing pain management today by maintaining the professionalism necessary to combat today's "business" pressures.