Progress on Post-Op Pain


Reducing the amount of post-operative pain for patients has taken a significant stride forward over the last 10 years according to a recent survey conducted at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. All participants had to first describe the satisfaction with the given pain treatment, and then rank the severity of any post-op pain before hospital discharge. Follow-up information was recorded one, two, and three weeks following the surgery as well.

The survey was first used between 1998 – 2002, with nearly 63% of patients experiencing moderate-to-severe pain two-weeks following surgery.Now, in 2014,that percentage has dropped dramatically to 40%. What has changed over the years? First and foremost, medical teams have developed a more sophisticated understanding of pain medication "cocktails" and timing.           

Instead of simply giving a post-op patient 10mgs of morphine, many doctors have reduced that amount, and moved towards a combination method of specific drugs. As a result, there is no longer a cure-all for different patient’s pain. Different pathways have shown great success, and "personalized pain management" should continue help drive post-op pain down to even lower levels. No longer will a 25 year old having thoracic surgery be treated the same as an 85 year old having abdominal surgery. 

Is your hospital, and your team, using this evidence-based, personalized approach to post-op pain management? Have your experiences been as good, or better, than these published results?