Managing Your Chronic Pain Patients
Tips for maximizing safety and satisfaction.
Connie Casey, RN, CNOR, LHRM
Pain management patients are a diverse population. They're old and young, they're recovering from acute injuries and weathering weakened joints, they're covered by Medicare, workers' comp and private plans. What they've got in common is that they're in pain: severe, unrelenting pain. Unlike most elective surgery patients, their pain is uncontrollable except by the intervention of injections. As a result, they often require a little bit of special care. These tips can help you ensure their safety and satisfaction.
Privacy for pain patients
If your facility has a C-arm, an imaging table and time on the schedule, you're probably hosting or considering pain management injections. They're quick, inexpensive and profitable. (See "Adding Pain Management Painlessly," Outpatient Surgery Magazine, October 2012.)
You can work in your existing ORs and procedure rooms, but for pre-procedure handling, there's a lot of value in a separate space. Pain patients tend to have difficulties with standing, sitting and ambulating. The bright lighting, stiff chairs, captive audience and anxious pediatric patients of the waiting room they enter through may exacerbate this discomfort. Providing them with a separate waiting room, a quiet, dimmed environment with padded chairs where they can sign in and recline among other patients who understand how they're feeling can ease the path into treatment. Once the case volume at our multi-specialty surgery center started booming, we catered to these needs with a separate entrance, waiting room and pre-op for our pain patients.
Make it personal
Facilities that see pain management patients see them over and over again. They are repeat customers in a way that your elective surgery patients are not. These regular visitors get to know your facility, so getting to know them can be an avenue to providing a more satisfying experience.
At our center, we don't rotate our pain nurses through our surgery schedule. The nurses who shepherd pain patients through their procedures are the same ones they've met before. And our nurses do get to know them. They know their names, they remember some of the personal things they've told them, they know whether they like coffee or tea after their injections. A lot of times, these patients are dealing with emotional as well as physical pain. A personal touch can be inspiring to their recovery.