The active identification and management of chronic refractory breathlessness is a human right.

Published

Journal Article

Chronic refractory breathlessness is defined as breathlessness at rest or on minimal exertion that will persist chronically despite optimal treatment of the underlying cause(s). At any time, 1% of the population report a modified Medical Research Council dyspnoea score of ≥ 3 chronically. Despite the prevalence, severity and chronicity of this symptom and an evidence base of affordable and safe interventions, chronic refractory breathlessness remains grossly undertreated. Many patients and clinicians accept the presence of the chronic refractory breathlessness as an inevitable part of an illness, with no thought of treating the symptom despite an evidence base for its safe treatment. Consensus statements from major respiratory clinician organisations now endorse such a clinical course. Failure to inquire about, assess and properly treat chronic refractory breathlessness with opioids as outlined in specialist clinical guidelines is now an unacceptable level of care ethically and is, arguably, a breach of people's human rights. Adequate pain control through access to pain relief is now accepted as a human right and, given its burden across the world, the symptomatic treatment of chronic refractory breathlessness should be seen in exactly the same way.

Full Text

Cited Authors

  • Currow, DC; Abernethy, AP; Ko, DN

Published Date

  • April 2014

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 69 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 393 - 394

PubMed ID

  • 24212892

Pubmed Central ID

  • 24212892

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1468-3296

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0040-6376

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1136/thoraxjnl-2013-204701

Language

  • eng