German Pain Society Forum Addresses Pain in Hospitals and Nursing Homes

Oct 12, 2015

At the German Pain Society’s 2nd National Pain Forum, a broad array of stakeholders of the country’s health-care system met in Berlin on September 7 to consider the theme “Pain in Hospitals and Nursing Homes.” Government officials and representatives from medical universities, 17 leading medical societies, health insurers, and patient advocacy organizations discussed three major topics: (1) the current situation of acute pain therapy in hospitals and outpatient clinics, (2) pain therapy in the context of hospital planning and quality management, and (3) pain therapy in nursing homes.

Participants widely agreed that attending to the underuse and misuse of pain therapy is a shared responsibility of all stakeholders in the German health-care system, especially in times of strong economic pressure on hospitals and nursing homes. To address this challenge, regulations aimed at ensuring a medically sound and qualitatively high standard of patient care may be necessary. For example, the development of a “pain indicator” is needed to allow better comparisons of pain therapy standards among hospitals. In addition, nursing homes could follow the best-practice examples given by the German Network in Quality of Nursing Care.

The German Pain Society has asked the federal and local governments as well as health-care providers to address features of structural quality in the near future, such as an acute pain service for complex pain patients in hospitals and the hiring of specialized pain nurses in hospitals and nursing homes, when the next hospital plan is initiated. In addition, patients with chronic pain are best treated by an interdisciplinary multiprofessional multimodal approach. However, the minimal structural requirements and the financial compensation system can vary widely between different locations. Here, medical institutions and health-care providers see the need to work on a more standardized solution.

Altogether, the 2nd National Pain Forum was a very constructive exchange of expertise and ideas among representatives of the German health-care community. The 3rd National Pain Forum will take place in Berlin on September 22, 2016.

The German Pain Society, a chapter of IASP, has approximately 3,400 individual members and is the greatest scientific and medical society in the field of pain in Europe. The society is a member of the Association of the Scientific Medical Societies in Germany and represents the country’s 17 leading medical societies in the area of pain. These professional societies represent more than 60,000 members.

-- Michael Schäfer is president and Thomas Isenberg is executive director of the German Pain Society.