Treat the Pain / Life before Death

In Collaboration with

International Association for Hospice & Palliative Care

7. Torture in Health Care

About this Video

Leaders in pain control and palliative care, including Dr Kathleen Foley (USA), Dr Willem Scholten (World Health Organization), Dr Liz Gwyther (South Africa), Dr Snezana Bosnjak (Serbia), Mary Callaway (USA), Dr MR Rajagopal (India), Eugene Murray (Ireland) and Dr Jim Cleary (Australia) debate whether torture is actually taking place in health services around the world:

Dr Kathleen Foley (USA) poses the question, “What is the solution to torture in health care?”
“There is a difference between torture and not acting,” points out Dr Willem Scholten (World Health Organization).

“People are very hung up on the torture word,” reflects Mary Callaway (USA). The sentiments of Dr Liz Gwyther (South Africa) and Dr Snezana Bosnjak (Serbia) reiterate the sensitivity around the language of torture.

Dr MR Rajagopal (India) tells the harrowing story of a former patient who threatened to commit suicide in front of his health clinic when stocks of morphine ran out. “It is torture when we willfully refuse to do something about it.”

Eugene Murray (Ireland) supports this position. “What can be more degrading to a person than to have them in severe pain when they’re dying… It is torture by neglect.”

Dr Kathleen Foley identifies that the issue of fundamental human rights becomes a consideration when we consider the failure to deliver satisfactory pain control as an act of torture.

“I think people are suffering and should people have to suffer unnecessarily?” asks Dr Jim Cleary (Australia). “All around the world people are suffering and they shouldn’t have to.”

Call to Action

  • Tell several physicians and nurses you know to watch this video
  • Facilitate a discussion with them about medical neglect as torture; does it exist it your community?
  • Share your experiences in the comments section below…

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