In search of a new ethic for treating patients with chronic pain: what can medical boards do?

J Law Med Ethics. Winter 1998;26(4):332-49, 263. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-720x.1998.tb01679.x.


Author argues that a complex "ethic of underprescribing" underlies the continued reluctance of physicians to use opioids to treat chronic pain. She contends that state medical boards are uniquely positioned to promote a new ethic for pain management, but stresses the difficulties for boards in attaining this goal. She thinks success may hinge on whether boards can change their approach to pain management and persuade a skeptical medical community that adopting a risk for underprescribing will serve the long-term interests of patients and the profession.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use*
  • Chronic Disease / drug therapy
  • Double Effect Principle
  • Drug and Narcotic Control / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Empirical Research
  • Ethics
  • Ethics, Medical*
  • Government Regulation
  • Humans
  • Intention
  • Licensure, Medical*
  • Pain / drug therapy*
  • Professional Misconduct
  • Social Control, Formal*
  • Social Responsibility
  • Social Values*
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Substance-Related Disorders / prevention & control
  • United States
  • Withholding Treatment


  • Analgesics, Opioid