Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Christopher Bass’s article, “Complex Regional Pain Syndrome medicalises limb pain“, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), has served as a call to arms by some of the country’s leading experts in the treatment and management of chronic pain.
After arguing that junior doctors are diagnosing the condition without the support of senior colleagues, Dr Bass argues that the diagnostic label itself is causing significant disability.
Robust responses in the BMJ and other journals, mostly seeking to rebut the opinion of Dr Bass, were followed by a conference convened at the Royal Society of Medicine in November 2014, where Dr Bass was invited to speak. Richard Lowes, a partner at BLB Solicitors, attended this important conference.
In relation to Dr Bass’s argument that the diagnostic label itself is causing considerable disability, the overwhelming balance of opinion at the conference seemed to be that there was no evidence for this. Conversely, delegates argued that the diagnosis actually helps patients to make sense of their symptoms, as well as helping those treating them to develop treatment programmes. In fact, it was argued that the scepticism fed by the lack of a diagnosis only serves to increase the distress of patients and ultimately delays access to treatment.
Following the conference, Richard Lowes said “Dr Bass’s article has created a lot of attention and sparked much controversy. This has been reflected today in some very lively debate and some very eminent people have been moved to speak passionately against the opinions expressed by Dr Bass.
“Clearly, the issues raised have potentially important ramifications for personal injury claims involving chronic pain and I was therefore a little disappointed that there were so few lawyers present. However, very much to their credit, the medical profession were there in considerable force and I was impressed by the strength of feeling in the room.”
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