IASP eNewsletter - Aug 2014

Landmark Initiative in Germany Focuses on Chronic and Acute Pain Care

After years of discussion at conferences sponsored by the IASP SIG on Acute Pain—including the most recent one in Cologne in November 2013—German physicians have resolved to make the management of acute and chronic pain a national medical priority. The 117th German Physician’s Congress, held last May in Düsseldorf, recognized the patient’s right to up-to-date acute and chronic pain care. The declaration cites the significant human and economic burden of pain in adults and children alike as a driver of needed reform.

The full resolution lays out broad goals and objectives for improving pain care in Germany. At the primary care level, German family physicians and internists will gain access to further general training in pain medicine. This will be coupled with increased clarity about specialist referral options and the creation of specialty pain clinics. The hope is to reduce the barriers to pain care many German patients experience.

The Physician’s Congress recognized the risk and potential burden associated with acute pain, including longer hospital stays, increased treatment costs, and progression to chronic pain. In an attempt to combat this, the Congress recommended making pain management a quality benchmark for all hospital in-patient settings. Comparing pain prevention and treatment with hospital hygiene standards, the report recommends the use of pain as a quality marker of the same importance as nosocomial infections and pressure ulcers.

The declaration does not discuss specific agents or treatment modalities. It encourages financial support for pain research with a focus on evidence-based optimization of current approaches and the development of new multimodal strategies for pain treatment. It is gratifying to see this milestone achieved as the result of the efforts of so many in the SIG on Acute Pain, particularly Wolfgang Koppert and Winfried Meissner.