What does it mean to control pain?
Pain is almost a universal symptom for our patients, and depending on their coping mechanism and pain threshold, each person experiences pain in their own way. Naturally, a patient’s pain can affect their experiences and perceptions, but it should also be noted that the patient’s environment and experiences can also affect their pain.
In a study by the American Pain Society, it was noted that patients reported worse pain when they perceived their providers to be uncaring. This study also showed that the effect can work positively as well. Patients reported that their pain was effectively controlled when expectations were set, they were informed and included in their pain management plan, and staff frequently assessed their pain.
When a patient’s pain is effectively controlled they are more comfortable, more willing participate in their care, and are more likely to have good outcomes. Clearly, pain can affect our patients’ mind, body, and spirit, not to mention how they perceive their pain management and overall care.
What does it mean to effectively manage and control pain? It may not be what you think.
In a study by the Gallup Business Journal, it was noted that not only are certain levels of pain necessary for diagnosis, but it showed that it is not necessary to completely eliminate a patient’s pain in order for a them to perceive that their pain was well controlled.
Clearly, effective pain control is not about completely eliminating pain, nor is it about just giving meds. It’s about building trust by listening, communicating, and working with our patients to set realistic pain goals.
In upcoming posts on pain management, we will be addressing four main tactics and best practices. These four key needs for effective pain management are:
Hospital Culture / Staff Attitudes
Not only do we need to eliminate the automatic labeling of patients as “addicts” or “drug seekers”, but we must respect our patients enough to partner with them, not just simply placating their pain complaints.
Setting Patient Expectations and Goals
Trust and honesty are essential to making a pain control plan with our patients. We need set expectations and communicate with our patients that pain control does not mean completely eliminating pain, but it means reducing pain to a manageable level.
Consistency & Medication Administration Processes
As with any patient quality or patient satisfaction initiative, consistency is key. Specifically, we need to be consistent in the repetition of a scripted medication administration process.
Administration Buy-in & Leadership
No initiative, policy, or best-practice can survive and be successful without solid front-line leadership and a strong sense of buy-in from hospital administration.
These tactics and best practices do not highlight specific pain control methods. They are ways to include your patient in their care, set their expectations, educate them on their own medications, and ensure that you are doing all you can to control their pain.