The Fifth Vital Sign: Cornerstone of a New Pain Management Strategy
Hildegarde J. Berdine
Pain has recently become the focus of attention as a major health problem in the US. The implementation of a pain management strategy in a rural not-for-profit federal hospital is described in this article. The strategy heightened awareness and changed the practice behaviors of clinicians in recognizing, assessing, treating and following patients with pain. Quality improvement initiatives monitored the performance of the healthcare staff regarding use of the assessment and documentation tools. Reduction of pain was surveyed in both transitional care patients and outpatients. Outpatients were also interviewed for satisfaction with their pain management plan. The efforts are ongoing as healthcare professionals continue to focus on reducing pain and suffering in their patients. Additional work is directed toward meeting both the objectives in the strategic plan and standards set by the health systems organization accrediting body described for pain management.
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