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ESRA19-0632 Inappropriate pain relief: is it negligence or breach of human rights?
  1. A Cormack
  1. Glasgow Royal Infirmary, Department of Anaesthesia, Glasgow, UK


Background and aims Access to pain relief is considered by some scholars to be the human right [1], but in healthcare where approaches to pain management are individualised, it is hard univocally ascertain in which circumstances lack of effective pain management would amount to clinical negligence and/or breach of human rights. I have conducted a United Kingdom case law search to review published cases involving inadequate pain relief over last 15 years to establish in which circumstances inadequate pain management breached human rights or was negligent.

Methods BAILII and Westlaw library case law search using keywords ‘pain’, ‘human right’, ‘analgesia’, ‘negligence’ from the British courts over last 15 years.

Results I have identified one case that would answer my research question [2]. In the case the patient claimed damages for negligence and breaches of Articles 3 and 8 of the ECHR [3] inter alia for the inappropriate pain relief administration. the breaches of Human Right Act [4] were not upheld, but negligence was established on the failure to provide pain relief medications in timely manner.

Conclusions In the identified case inappropriate pain relief administration was established to be negligent. That rises important points about importance of appropriate and timely pain relief provision at hospitals. the timing of administration should be well documented as well as reasons for delays or omittance to comply with current common law. Although it did not amount to Human Rights breach it was still negligent to delay or omit pain relief administration.

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