RightsPain patients oftentimes encounter obstacles to care, whether because of a clinician who doesn’t take their pain seriously, difficulty accessing the best treatment options due to high costs, or other reasons. To better protect pain patients’ rights, U.S. Pain Foundation and the Massachusetts Pain Initiative joined together to help spearhead the refiling of a bill, “An Act Requiring Pain Assessment and Management in Healthcare Facilities” (HD409/SD1514), in the state of Massachusetts. The effort was led by U.S. Pain’s National Director of Advocacy and Policy Cindy Steinberg. Bill sponsors are Rep. Jay Kaufman and Sen. Julian Cyr.

The bill would amend existing law to ensure that every patient and resident of a healthcare facility has the right to prompt assessment, management, and treatment of his or her pain—and to periodic reassessment. The full bill text can be found here.

“Pain assessment and management should be a basic right of all citizens,” says Steinberg. “Nineteen states already protect this right. As a state that typically sets the bar for patient-centered, high-quality health care, this seems like an important step for Massachusetts to take.”

Steinberg explains that although The Joint Commission, which accredits healthcare institutions, enforces this right, it does not cover all healthcare facilities in Massachusetts, like long-term care facilities and surgical centers. In addition, there are other accrediting organizations that organizations can choose to be accredited by. Those accreditors may not have a pain assessment and management standard.

Shaina Smith, U.S. Pain director of state advocacy and alliance development, encourages Massachusetts-based advocates and ambassadors to consider reaching out to their state legislators via phone, email or social media to encourage them to co-sponsor the bill—the deadline for co-sponsorship is Feb. 3—and support the bill going forward.

“There is no cost to the state for passing this bill, as institutions should be doing this already to be accredited and to receive Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services funding,” says Smith. “Doesn’t everyone deserve the right to have his or her pain assessed and managed?”

To learn how you can further support the Massachusetts bill or to introduce a similar bill in your state, contact Steinberg at 781-652-0146 or csteinberg@rcn.com.