Supplement-Increase Staff Knowledge of Pain Management

By Julie Crawshaw

With new pain management standards from the Oakbrook Terrace, Ill-based Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, hospitals have been alerted to the need for increased education on this topic, says Roxie Foster, PhD, RN, FAAN, associate professor at University of Colorado Health Sciences Center School of Nursing in Denver.

"Thus, it is an excellent time for nurses to let administrators know exactly what education they need," Foster recommends.

The most effective education is evidence-based, ongoing, provides a variety of forums for learning, and establishes a base for expert judgments, she says. "Occasional consultation visits from pain management experts can validate local efforts and open a dialogue about practices in other areas," Foster adds. "Many of these experts have sponsors to offset consultation costs."

Look at Literature, Conferences

To locate experts, search current literature on pain management, Foster suggests. "The experts are usually well-published, and their contact information is listed with the article," she says. "Also ask co-workers about speakers they have heard at conferences who might make good consultants."

Stay abreast of the current literature in pain management, Foster urges. "Ask the hospital librarian to prepare a monthly update of pain-related articles available within the institution," she says. Selected articles might be collated in a notebook on the unit and the information used for evidence-based practice initiatives, she adds.

Journal clubs are a good way to start a dialogue with physicians and other professionals, suggests Foster. "These usually involve discussing one or more articles of interest that are made available to the group in advance." This provides an opportunity to review sophisticated literature and to discuss its relevance and application for the population of interest, says Foster.

"Interdisciplinary partnership is a prerequisite for optimal pain relief," she says.

Julie Crawshaw is a freelance writer in Salude, NC.