Improving Pain Management

There’s a problem coming to the forefront of the healthcare community. Some 50 million Americans suffer with pain, yet only about 60 percent say they get adequate relief. While that may be due, in part, to a need for better medication, experts say there is more to it than that. Here’s a look at the state of pain management today in America and what’s being done to improve it.

Borgstrom says, “I just want to be able to function, and I don’t want to be a zombie.”

Today Borgstrom is able to function, but it took visits to nearly 30 different doctors to get there.

A recent survey shows Borgstrom’s frustration is not unique. Fifty-three percent of pain patients say they are unhappy with their pain care.

Patients would come in with chronic pain conditions, and the doctor would just sort of ignore it.

The problem has not been a lack of caring, it’s been a lack of education. “None of us were taught how to do that. It didn’t come with a nursing degree, and it didn’t come with a medical degree for that matter,” a pain consultant Carole says.

A survey of doctors’ knowledge of pain found over 30 percent are unaware almost all cancer patients suffer with pain. Thirty-seven percent did not know almost all cancer patients should get narcotics. Moreover, more than 26 percent are unaware almost all chronic pain can be relieved with treatment.

There are new guidelines created that demand better pain care from doctors. These standards have forced organizations, if you will, to look at how they practice, look at what they’re doing, and to make it better.

Now, for a hospital to be certified by JCAHO, doctors must ask all patients about pain the day they are admitted and have patients continue to rank pain throughout their care. Also, patients must be educated that they have a right to expect better care.

As for Borgstrom, the road to relief was long and hard, but he’s thankful he’s around to see his grandchildren grow up.

His pain, like for 57 percent of other pain sufferers, was back related. The other main causes of pain are cancer, arthritis, muscle pain and headache.

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