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Minister of Health’s answer regarding pain treatment

“The patient has the right to effective pain relief measures and under art. 4 of the Doctor and Dentist Professions Act of 5 December 1996 (…), a doctor is obliged to perform his/her profession in accordance with the current state of medical knowledge, with all available methods and measures for preventing, diagnosing and treating diseases pursuant to the principles of professional ethical conduct and exercising a professional standard of care”, reads the response of the Ministry of Health’s representative to a letter sent by the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights.

In February 2015 the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights sent another letter to the Minister of Health, calling for improving access to effective pain management solutions at health care institutions. Poland is one of the countries with the lowest opioid drug use. Moreover, the country has yet to adopt a quality control system of pain management.

In response, the Ministry of Health’s representative, Undersecretary Igor Radziewicz Winnicki, informed the HFHR that the Minister of Health is aware of the problem of insufficient pain treatment in Poland. “According to the Ministry, the biggest obstacle is to persuade doctors and patients that opioid drugs are safe to use. Excessive fears of the risk of opioid use among patients and medical community prevent the use of their potential in treating pain”, reads the letter sent to the Foundation.

The Ministry also points to the actions taken over the recent months including calling on to national consultants, the Supreme Medical Council and regional medical councils, scientific societies, university chancellors and editors-in-chief of medical journals for more focus on the issues of effective pain treatment.

Thanks to the changes made in the regulation, strong painkillers may now be prescribed for 90 days, instead of 30 days as it has been so far. Also, the validity of prescriptions is extended from 14 to 30 days. Together with the Centre of Quality Monitoring in Health Care and the Polish Association for the Study of Pain a survey entitled “Let’s Relieve the Patient of Pain 2015” has been initiated, whose main objective is to collect data from hospitals in order to assess the current practices of pain treatment. It was also confirmed in the Ministry’s letter to the HFHR that the MoH sees the need to rank health care services providers based on the effectiveness of pain relief measures they apply.

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