LIFE Before Death #23: Ripple Effect

2011 October 21
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LIFE Before Death Wins Accolade Award!

Short Film 23 of 50 in the LIFE Before Death documentary series about the global crisis in untreated pain and the dramatic life changing affect palliative care services can deliver to patients and their families around the world.

In “Ripple Effect¬†“¬†we discover the very real and dangerous consequences of untreated pain.

“As a society we don’t need to have bad deaths because that’s inhumane,” reflects Dr David Morrison (Canada). “But they do occur and the residual effect of a bad death on a family is really difficult. To allow somebody to die in pain, when it’s not necessary, that’s a tragedy.”

“If one man in a family suffers agonizing pain, it’s the whole family that suffers from it,” explains Dr MR Rajagopal (India). “Everything in the family is now concentrated on relieving that person’s suffering.”

“If you don’t treat pain, patients can’t live their day-to-day lives — they can’t go to work — and if they’re the main breadwinners in the family and they’re not able to do that well… many things can go wrong,” considers Dr Zipporah Ali (Kenya).

“People don’t go to work. It destroys families,” states Mary Callaway (USA). “Think about the amount of money that would be saved in the workforce and how much better off families and relationships would be if they weren’t impacted by untreated pain.”

“The consequences of course, sometimes unfortunately, will be the destruction of the family socially,” continues Dr Rajagopal. “The children’s education stops. The family’s cow is sold first. Then the home is lost. And everything is sold so they can relieve this man’s suffering.”

“We have clear evidence in developed countries that untreated pain has actually a cost impact on society,” reveals Dr Jim Cleary (Australia). “To me the critical issue, the cost of pain, is the personal suffering that it inflicts.”

“We have the means to treat pain,” states Dr Mary Cardosa (Malaysia). “We have the drugs, we have the techniques, so it’s actually needless suffering.”

“A month back I treated a man — not with cancer, with a painful muscular disease — he came to us and he had this large black scar around his neck,” recalls Dr Rajagopal. “The pain was so intolerable that he tried to hang himself and his two children, around 12 and 8, saw this, came running, lifted him up — thereby keeping him alive. How much scars will there be on those two kids?”

“Suffering from severe cancer pain, or pain related to HIV, can be really extreme,” concludes Diederik Lohman (The Netherlands). “We’ve had multiple people tell us that they would prefer to die rather than to have to face the pain that they were suffering. On top of that pain can be treated with very inexpensive medications that are generally not very hard to administer. So there’s really no reason why any patient should have to suffer pain. We have the medications, we have the knowledge, it’s not difficult for doctors or nurses to treat pain and yet in many countries pain treatment is very poorly available and millions of people suffer.”

Featuring Dr David Morrison (Canada), Dr MR Rajagopal (India), Dr Zipporah Ali (Kenya), Dr Jim Cleary (Australia), Dr Mary Cardosa (Malaysia), Diederik Lohman (The Netherlands).

If you’ve missed previous episodes, catch up on the LIFE Before Death website…

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