Pain Management: A Growing Healthcare Concern

Posted on Nov 13 2013 - 11:01am by Sameer Gupta


With a growing number of people suffering from various healthcare conditions, pain management has become an important part of healthcare. Hospitals are formulating specialized pain management centers that concentrate on chronic as well as acute pain by way of intervention and multidisciplinary approaches for long-term relief.

With changing lifestyles, more and more people are now suffering from physical pain such as back aches, knee pain, arthritis, spinal disorders etc. Patients often go from clinic to clinic and hospital to hospital in search of a cure that would take care of the problem once and for all. According to a 2011 report by Institute of Medicine, more than other medical conditions such as diabetes, heart problems and cancer combined, pain impacts more number of Americans. It costs the country nearly $635 billion in treatments along with loss in productivity.

Pain Management Centers

Due to the increase in pain conditions, hospitals are now creating specialized pain centers which have structured pain programs to evaluate chronic and acute pain, and also offer pain education along with psychological evaluation. Furthermore, hospitals are aware that the pain management outcomes need to be improved in order to ensure patient satisfaction, which also directly affects hospitals rankings. Previously, pain management was a part of the palliative care program; however, due to the increase in patients with pain complaints, hospitals have now formed multidisciplinary teams for special pain management programs. These multidisciplinary teams include anesthesiologists and radiologists. Many hospitals have not just made a special pain management center, but have given it prominence by increasing its space and dedicating a large staff to the center. Hospitals offer both in-patient as well as out- patient programs at pain management centers.

Although hospitals are concentrating on creating pain centers, general practitioners are reluctant to do so as there is increased law scrutiny with regards to pain management. There is also extensive misuse of prescribed drugs. This has led to many hospitals joining hands with a group of practitioners to overlook the functioning of pain management. Pill mills are notorious in the US, where physicians overprescribe many drugs such as opioid analgesics and morphine drugs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP), drug overdose deaths have tripled since 1990. Furthermore CDCP states that 3 out f 4 prescription drug over doses are that of opium analgesics. Due to these disturbing trends, lawmakers are closely scrutinizing pain management doctors and practitioners thus alienating family doctors from this field. In case of hospitals, extra care is taken to ensure there is no drug abuse. Electronic data is recorded of every patient and their prescription doses are carefully monitored. Even after the patient leaves the hospital, a patient’s summary is made and re-checked by the doctor to avoid misuse.

Pain Management in Children

While many hospitals are focusing on pain management in adults, several centers are also putting in a lot of effort to help children who face pain; especially those coping with cancer. One of the major roadblocks in appropriate pain management in children is the lack of communication. Many children are unable to express their level of pain accurately, making it difficult for doctors to treat them properly. Another major issue is the inability of physicians to provide proper medication as well as non-pharmacological treatment for children. For children pain management, hospitals have created special multidisciplinary teams that include massage therapists, psychologists, physicians and nurses. Special analgesia protocols are developed since pediatric sedation is very risky and requires special attention. There is very little knowledge regarding accurate pain management for children, therefore extra efforts are being taken across all hospitals to implement protocols to ensure maximum care for children in pain.

Due to the changing healthcare scenario, pain management has become a major concern for physicians. Successful management of pain ensures patient satisfaction. (Suggested Readings: Read more)

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About the Author

Sameer Gupta is a medical writer who writes well-researched, in-depth cancer articles which provide relevant information to help patients combat the deadly disease. Read more.