As we begin the new millenium, pain in Canada is epidemic. Studies show that over half of hospitalized patients experience unnecessary pain. Reports of chronic pain in Canada range from 13 to 30% of the general population.
The burden of pain in Canada is felt in economic terms with loss of work, more demands on healthcare services, and in significant decreases in quality of life. Yet, in spite of the magnitude of the problem of pain in Canada, the suffering of patients is not heard and too often their pain is not taken seriously. The following Charter has been created in the spirit of changing how patients in pain are treated.
- Members of healthcare professions, as well as the general public, need to be made aware of the fact that chronic pain is a condition not a symptom.
- Consumers must advocate for greater awareness of all aspects of pain.
- Patients would benefit from professional guidance and resources to help them assimilate information from different sources.
- All healthcare professionals could take on a bigger role re treatment plan emphasizing the whole individual.
- Patients have responsibilities as well as rights and should work in partnership with healthcare professionals, actively participating in their care.
- Children, the elderly, or those who are cognitively impaired or unable to communicate, have the right to have their parents or caregivers equally involved in their care.
Pain patients are entitled to:
- have their reports of pain taken seriously
- receive compassionate and sympathetic care
- have treatment/care, follow-up and periodic reassessment
- actively participate, or have their parents or caregivers participate, in their treatment plan development
- timely access to best-practice care
- have adequate information in order to consent to their treatment
- information and support, including access to health records
To the extent they are able, patients or their parents /caregivers are responsible:
- to be knowledgeable about pain
- to engage in open communication with their healthcare providers
- to actively participate in their own care and in decisions about their care in partnership with healthcare professionals
- to do their best to comply with their treatment
- to advocate for better pain management