Pain management has recently received a great deal of attention. In the past, physicians worried about the possible liability of overprescription of habit-forming narcotics, but now failing to adequately control pain is also a cause of litigation. In a California case, a family was awarded judgment against the father's doctor who had allegedly ignored the patient's pleas of excruciating pain; other cases of liability when patients claimed to have received inadequate pain management can be found in the literature. Sanctions have been brought against health care professionals by state licensing boards. Pain management guidelines have been developed by the federal government and other heath care organizations.

COMMENTARY: Pain management is a growing field in veterinary medicine. Although veterinarians are not currently in the same litigious environment as physicians, we should be aware of the public's concern about pain management. With more patients being treated for pain than ever before, more education on pain management and appropriate use of available drugs is needed.

The pain of irresponsible pain management. Berson SW. ONCOLOGY ISSUES 18:21, 2003.