The Common Sense Guide to Improving Palliative Care > Preventing, Assessing, and Treating Pain > 4.1 Chapter Overview

Sick To Death book cover This extract from the online edition of The Common Sense Guide to Improving Palliative Care is used with permission.

Preventing, Assessing, and Treating Pain: Chapter Overview

In This Chapter:

Severe pain in a dying person is unacceptable, and its consequences are severe: Inadequate pain relief can hasten death, lead to despair, and destroy the patient's quality of life. Despite advances in pain management, many barriers still prevent people from receiving effective treatment. In some cases, patients may be reluctant to talk about their pain, fearing that they will seem weak or that they will become dependent on pain medicine. Sometimes, it can take hours (in hospitals) or even days (in home care) to get pain medicine to a patient, once it has been ordered.

A few basic steps can improve pain management. Doctors and nurses need to talk to patients about pain; they should ask about comfort (usual, worst, what helps, how it affects the patient), discuss treatment options, and provide information about the nature of pain and how to control it. Knowing that their healthcare team is listening and that everyone involved is confident that pain can be managed can comfort patients and their families.

The case study throughout this chapter represents a composite of work done by various successful teams with which we have worked. Their efforts illustrate how a team can identify a problem, come up with an aim, and measure the results of the changes it has made (see Chapter 2 for basic methods).

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