One of the most important components of a peaceful death is adequate control of pain and other distressing symptoms, such as dyspnea, agitation, and restlessness. Pain is an important symptom in 75 to 80% of noncancer patients in the last year of life. Opioid analgesics are often the mainstay of pain treatment for dying patients. A primary care physician also needs to know about anesthetic and neurosurgical approaches, the use of cognitive, behavioral approaches, and the availability of specialized pain experts. A sizeable minority of physicians receive requests for an assisted death, which should be seen as a cry for help. The most useful function of advance directives is that they open an avenue for discussion between the doctor and the patient about a difficult subject.
|Number of pages||11|
|State||Published - Jun 1996|