4 Tips for Better Pain Management

May 15, 2014
Tagged with: 4 Tips for Better Pain Management

A healthcare professional knows that pain is one of the best indicators that something’s not right with a patient, but there’s a fine line between using that pain to alert you something needs to be done and keeping the pain from causing traumatizing discomfort for patients. If you work in an ICU or a hospital, pain is an everyday challenge for healthcare professionals and their patients. Meet with your colleagues to discuss methods of better pain management at your facility; there’s no right or wrong way to debate it, but there are a few ideas to assist in dealing with the level of pain your patients feel.

Give Relief Beforehand

If they’re in the hospital, chances are, your patients are in pain, even with treatment. However, there are times when the pain worsens. Nurse.com reported on a study of ICU patients; 30 percent felt pain at rest, and 50 percent felt pain during routine care. “Routine” care ranged from redressing wounds to simply turning the patient over, both of which are essential to a patient’s health and well being while in treatment. Clearly, there’s no way to avoid doing things that cause patients pain. But you can more effectively anticipate when the pain will worsen and treat the pain accordingly.

Since pain medication takes time to work, think ahead of treatment. Let the patient rest and administer pain relief 20 to 30 minutes before you plan on moving or redressing wounds. Remember to take doctor’s visits into consideration. The doctor will be jostling the patient during even a routine examination, so give pain relief ahead of schedule.

Reexamine How You Dress Wounds

When your patient is at rest, pain levels are likely lowered. So focus the most on lowering pain when moving the patient, such as when dressing wounds. To decrease the level of pain:

  • Read studies about product comfort and consider new manufacturers of supplies
  • Reapply dressings more often, especially when the wound is newer; the longer dressings stay on, the more painful they are to remove due to dried fluids
  • Remove old dressings slowly, gauging the patient’s pain as you go

Don’t be afraid to reexamine the issue every few weeks. Nurses and medical assistants may find more effective ways of removing and applying new bandages after hearing feedback from patients.

Support New Technology

Stay better informed about the latest technology on the horizon. For example, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reports on a device used for infants who can’t verbalize their pain; this device uses computer chips to send pain signals to medical providers via a light orb. These types of devices might also see application for adults in the ICU who can’t verbalize pain.

Whenever possible, your facility should support the development of devices such as these. You might offer to use your facility as a test site or donate money toward further research and development.

Speak With Therapists

Invite therapists to speak at your meetings to present ways to make the hospital stay less traumatizing for the patients. While you tackle reducing the physical pain, a therapist could give tips for approaching the patient, decorating her room and approaching the tasks most likely to cause pain. Your attitude and a comfortable environment can make a big difference in reducing a patient’s discomfort. Pain is always going to be a major problem when it comes to patient care. The key is finding a way to treat the pain while making the experience the least traumatic possible. People can forget physical pain as they heal, but the mental anguish of feeling hurt, confused and mishandled can last much longer. As a nurse, pushing for better pain management at your facility not only makes your job easier, but also gives you access to a wider variety of nursing careers.


Author: Chris Meloni