Monday, July 25, 2011

LIFE Before Death Short Films - Week 10 of 50!

Each week for 50 weeks, there will be a short documentary film about the international crisis in untreated pain. We've already made it through the first 10 weeks so far! This is a part of a larger project entitled LIFE Before Death which includes a full-length documentary film as well (see Christian’s earlier post Movie Trailer Premiere: LIFE Before Death).
Whether you are interested in watching about Opiophobia or debate the question of Torture in Health Care, you can catch up at You can also download the videos for advocacy and training work at the Life Before Death website (the topic of two previous Pallimed posts here and here).

If you are interested in some blog posts on individual short films, Dr. James Cleary, Director of the Pain Policy Studies Group (PPSG), has been faithfully writing about the episodes on the PPSG blog.

So what is the big deal? It may not seem like there is such a big problem if you live in the US or Canada, but there is. With all the concern about the morbidity and mortality of prescription drug abuse, we still have a major issue of untreated pain right here at home which is obvious to the average American. Many people who live in the US continue to suffer significant pain because of low doses or poor access to opioids. 

A case in point from my non-work life, I was in the ED waiting room keeping a friend company while she waited to be seen, when the woman on the other side of me (who had been waiting for more than 4 hours) loudly threatened to lift up her shirt to show the triage nurse her breast cancer so that she could get some pain relief. Needless to say, they finally got her some medication, but it took threatening public tumor nudity to get it. Yes, we have education/policy/access issues too. Undoubtedly, if you travel internationally you will see the same issues, only amplified. See my earlier post about World Opioid Consumption and Christian's post about the International Pain Crisis. 

Education is needed for safe use of anything, from opioids to a lawn mower. Just because you have the drugs doesn't mean you know how to prescribe them safely and effectively. Proper policy is also necessary so that medications can be safely and simply prescribed by those who are caring for people who suffer from pain and other symptoms. Drug availability is a critical and central issue, with 80% of countries using very small amounts of opioids for symptom control.

As we often tell you on Pallimed, you can get involved easily. It only takes a few minutes of your time. Follow the LIFEBeforeDeathMovie channel on YouTube, comment, like it, post it to your Facebook, tweet it, tell your med students, your mom, AND your nosy neighbor about it. Spread the word locally, nationally, internationally. It is through the collective efforts of all of us that we can help major media efforts promoting good palliative care get noticed across the US and around the world. Social media and on-the-ground action can lead to significant change... just look Egypt. Keep your eyes out for the next short film coming out this week! Thank you for not being silent!

Video credit: LIFE Before Death short film "Conspiracy of Silence

Photo credits: Stills from LIFE Before Death short films "We All Belong" and "Demand and Supply".

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