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How to Boost Pain Management Satisfaction Scores at Your Hospital

By Lisa Mulcahy via Multibriefs

As a hospital administrator, analyzing patient comments regarding pain management is something you probably have to do. Yet, it's easy to overlook common issues that cause or increase pain for your patients. These could be issues your patients don’t even realize are causing them problems.

Root out these problematic areas and implement solutions to make your patients more comfortable by utilizing this advice:

Document pain measures taken in relation to procedures scrupulously.

Research from a team including Bonnie J. Stevens published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that less than one-third of painful procedures pediatric patients underwent were documented with specific pain management intervention strategies.

Make sure that the pain management approach your teams use is adequate, can be adjusted based on patient needs during a procedure without difficulty, and is completely explained in notes.

Make sure your student doctors understand pain management protocol in detail.

Research from Boston College, led by study author Judith Shindul-Rothschild, found that teaching hospitals often have poor pain control satisfaction rates due to ineffective coordination between medical students and residents and hospitalists and nurses.

Make certain your doctors-in-training have the supervision and instruction they need to address patient pain sufficiently and correctly.

Revamp your needle know-how.

A study from Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota Minneapolis found that shots hurt less for kids when the following four steps were stringently taken:

  • numbing with a topical anesthetic
  • sugar water or breast milk given during immunization, if desired
  • never restraining or holding down a child
  • distracting a child with a toy or video as the shot is given

Simple, humane steps can make a huge difference for your peds patients. Appropriate topical numbing and maybe a little distraction can't hurt when it comes to immunizing adult patients, either.

Consider not using opioids for surgery on a case-by-case basis.

A study presented at the American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress in 2018 found that patients who have colorectal surgery without opioids are hospitalized for shorter periods of time.

The keys to this approach's success: patient education; preemptive pain management; non-opioid anesthesia; modified nerve blocks; and non-narcotic analgesics post-surgery. These are worth a look at your institution.

Address complaints immediately.

Nothing is more frustrating to a patient in need than not being given appropriate meds. Make sure your teams are using the pain scale frequently and properly.

Also, ensure that patients' pain complaints are instantly dealt with, either by needed administration or in-depth explanation as to why meds are not appropriate so other comfort measures can be swiftly taken.

Your patients need this reassurance — make it your business to ensure they always have it.

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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