5 Ways to Improve Patient Satisfaction Through Pain Management

By Lisa Mulcahy via Multibriefs

When it comes to making positive impressions after a hospital stay, the level of discomfort a patient deals with is a key factor. Research presented to the American Academy of Pain Medicine found that when pain is managed properly after surgery, patients reported higher satisfaction with their overall experience at a facility.

It's easy to see why. A comfortable patient not only isn't in distress, but he or she feels listened to and truly noticed by hospital caregivers. Here are five crucial points you should to employ to make your organization's pain management protocol more patient-friendly — and do it safely.

Make sure your staffing levels are up to par.

Research from the Boston College Connell School of Nursing found that patient satisfaction with pain management is directly tied to the number of nurses on duty per shift.

Make sure you schedule a high enough number of nurses so that each patient has short wait times to communicate issues they're having with pain. Patients also like to know that a prescribing doctor is available quickly if necessary — an adequate number of on-call physicians should be scheduled accordingly as well.

Track pain more efficiently.

Researchers from the University of Washington report that 40-60% of patients who deal with chronic pain feel that their comfort needs are not being met by their healthcare providers. In response, the researchers created an in-depth, computerized "pain tracker" questionnaire that covers a patient's pain history, management expectations, pain intensity and duration, and any quality-of-life issues they may be dealing with, such as poor sleep of depression related to their pain.

This gives an excellent real-time evaluation of a patient's status so medication may be adjusted more effectively. You can easily follow this model at your facility, and your nurses can instantly repeat and review portions of the questionnaire regularly during a patient's stay.

Coordinate early.

Strong overall linkage between all the members of a patient's care team makes a big difference in terms of how that patient's pain is perceived and managed. Hospital caregivers, case managers, and each patient's PCP should begin dialogue while the patient is still admitted so that medication can be optimally strategized and managed after the patient is released.

Make telemedicine an easy option.

Research from West Virginia University found that patients who had recently had cardiovascular surgery and lived at a distance from their caregivers reported greater satisfaction with pain management when their providers evaluated them electronically on a daily basis. Patients can potentially weigh themselves and take their own temperature, pulse and blood pressure readings, then email these findings to their specialists, who can communicate medication instructions remotely to the patient, visiting nurses, or the patient's PCP.

The result? Better patient comfort, plus a potentially reduced need for follow-up appointments in some cases.

Be scrupulous regarding opioid education.

Always make sure your doctors and nurses are speaking clearly and frankly about the dangers of opioid addiction to their patients and are extremely careful never to overprescribe. Careful monitoring of a patient's progress is also key so that patients can be weaned off these medications as soon as possible.

Your patients will feel safer and recover faster if your providers inform and support them consistently — a win-win for everyone.

Lisa Mulcahy is an internationally established health writer whose credits include the Los Angeles Times, Redbook, Glamour, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Health, Good Housekeeping, Parade, Woman's Day, Family Circle and Seventeen. She is the author of eight best-selling books, including "The Essentials of Theater," an Amazon No. 1 new release.


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