The problem with pain

Pain is the No. 1 reasons patients seek medical treatment.

By: April Lacey

Imagine living with someone who keeps you awake every night, who makes you cry, who makes you feel sad, hopeless and alone. That’s what living with pain is like.

“Pain is the No. 1 reason why patients seek medical treatment, and it is a big factor in terms of patient satisfaction,” said Peggy Guin, Ph.D., ARNP, a neuroscience clinical nurse specialist at UF Health Shands Hospital and co-chair of the hospital’s Pain Management Committee. 

Because pain management is such an important topic in the hospital setting, this committee specifically addresses issues related to pain management polices. Led by Guin and Robert Hurley, M.D., an associate professor of anesthesiology at the College of Medicine, the committee was restructured in 2011 to include more frontline employees. This allows more staff members who are directly interacting with patients daily and providing care to have a seat at the table when decisions are made. It also helps ensure these employees will spread the word of new guidelines and procedures within their units. 

After conducting a formal needs assessment, the committee made another change last year that is helping to improve pain management in the hospital — establishing a team of pain resource nurses. These team members are unit-based experts whom staff members can consult on pain management issues. They know what decisions have been made in the committee and can work with physicians to improve care. Currently, 53 nurses have been trained to serve as pain resource nurses, Guin said. 

“The problem isn’t always getting new information into the units, it’s getting the old information out, encouraging people to abandon old practices,” Guin said. “This has been a very important initiative. They are
the glue.”