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Statement regarding pain medication sent to the Minister of Health

The HFHR has asked the Minister of Health, Bartosz Arłukowicz, to look into the practices of patient pain management by Polish doctors.
The recently published press articles (including, the publications in Duży Format and Polityka weekly magazines) show that doctors very rarely and, if so, reluctantly, prescribe potent painkilling drugs to non-terminal patients. The Foundation has indicated that the problem of pain medication is completely marginalised in Polish hospitals, which leads to the unnecessary suffering of patients. The data quoted in the articles suggest that at least five times less morphine is used in Poland than in Western Europe.

“As an organisation serving the protection of human rights in Poland we perceive this problem from the perspective of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, i.e. the prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment”, the statement reads.

In HFHR’s statement sent to the Minister of Health, we have indicated that the National Health Fund does not earmark additional funds for pain medicine. Money spent on painkillers is therefore treated as yet another unnecessary expense. However, the relevant literature suggests that the patient is entitled to anaesthesia upon request as long as there are no contraindications, and that the entity obliged to take appropriate decisions as regards public financing of methods of pain treatment is the National Health Fund.

The HFHR has addressed the Minister of Health with the following question: does a person in severe pain have the right to appropriate medical assistance in the light of the binding law, in particular with regard to the Act on the Rights of Patients?

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