By Pat Anson, Editor
Over the last few months, we’ve received hundreds of reader comments about the poor quality of their pain care in hospitals and emergency rooms. Many said they their pain was not treated or undertreated, while others said they were misdiagnosed or labelled as addicts if they asked for pain medication.
In an effort to keep the dialogue going and see just how common these problems are, Pain News Network and the International Pain Foundation (IPain) are conducting a survey of pain sufferers about their treatment in hospitals. The survey, which you can take by clicking here, should only take a few minutes to complete.
One reason we’re doing the survey is because a group of U.S. senators recently proposed that Medicare no longer require hospitals to ask patients about the quality of their pain care. The senators believe questioning patients about their pain leads to over-prescribing "because physicians may feel compelled to prescribe opioid pain relievers" to improve their hospital's ranking in patient satisfaction surveys.
“Why would we want to reduce pain care or stop asking about a person’s comfort and pain levels?” asked Barby Ingle, president of IPain, who knows from experience what it’s like to go untreated or undertreated in a hospital. Barby recently wrote a column about ways to make your hospital stay easier.
“The International Pain Foundation has been hearing increasing stories of undertreated pain care in ER and hospital settings over the past few years,” she said. “With such a large outcry from pain patients across the country saying ‘don’t go the hospital for pain, they don’t know how to treat pain,’ we know there is a problem. How can it be addressed? Surveying the pain community will help put a spotlight on this issue and show lawmakers, providers, insurance companies, and the pain community that we need more focus on our pain care needs, not less.”
A recent development that will affect future pain care in hospitals is the release of new guidelines for post-surgical pain management. The American Pain Society is encouraging physicians to use opioids alongside “multimodal therapies” such as acetaminophen, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), Lyrica, Neurontin, and cognitive behavioral therapy to treat patients in post-operative pain.
“Cognitive behavioral therapy? Really? So you cut into my nerves and tissue and muscles for 6 hours, and the pain is all in my head?” is what Janet Lynn wrote about that idea.
“So when the NSAIDs shut down a person’s kidneys or cause massive stomach irritation and bleeding is it time to give a patient a narcotic pain med?” asked Sharon Storck
Even doctors aren’t immune from poor treatment in hospitals. Family practice physician Lisa Kehrberg, who has severe abdominal pain from visceral neuropathy, recently wrote about one of her experiences in a hospital (see “My Journey From Doctor to Chronic Pain Patient”)
“The first surprise was, after admission, they refused to treat my excruciating pain. I was doubled over, rocking, vomiting, and crying with the worst pain of my life. Worse than labor, appendicitis, or anything else I'd experienced,” wrote Dr. Kerhberg. “Doctor after doctor walked in and witnessed this and continued to refuse ordering opioids. After all the tests were complete and normal, the doctors were very rude to me and implied this was all a psychological problem.”
Has this ever happened to you? Are you satisfied with the quality of your pain care in hospitals? Take our survey and let us know, by clicking here.