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Pain Management and Patient Rights

Patient Rights and Responsibilities. At the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, we believe that all patients have a right to pain relief.

Mass. Eye and Ear. healthcare providers will:

  • Inform patients at the time of their initial assessment that relief of pain is an important part of their care; respond quickly to reports of pain.
  • Utilize a standardized tool to screen all patients for the presence of pain.
  • Ask patients initially and as a part of regular assessments about the presence, quality, and intensity of pain. Use the patient's self-report as the primary indicator of pain.
  • Mutually develop realistic goals with the patient and other healthcare providers to form a plan for pain management.
  • Implement a plan to achieve established goals.
  • Review and modify the plan of care for patients, as based on their individualized, changing pain-management needs.

As a patient at this hospital, you can expect:

  • Information about pain and pain-relief measures.
  • A concerned staff which is committed to pain prevention and management.
  • Health professionals, who respond quickly to reports of pain.
  • Your reports of pain will be believed.
  • State-of-the-art pain management.
  • Dedicated pain-relief specialists.

As a patient at this hospital, we expect that you will:

  • Ask your doctor or nurse what to expect regarding pain and pain management.
  • Discuss pain-relief options with our doctors and nurses to develop a pain-management plan.
  • Ask for pain relief when pain first begins.
  • Help your doctor and nurse assess your pain.
  • Tell your doctor or nurse if your pain is not relieved.
  • Tell your doctor or nurse about any worries you have about taking pain medications.

Measuring Your Pain

You will frequently be asked to rate your pain. This tells the doctor and nurse whether the pain medicine is working or if it needs to be adjusted or changed.
For example: If 0 means you are having no pain and 5 is the worst possible pain, how would you rate your pain?

Medications Can Help Control Pain

  • Mild pain is often treated with nonprescription pain relievers, such as aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen. These also can cause side effects-use only as directed. Never give aspirin to children under 12, unless directed by a healthcare provider. Ask your doctor if ibuprofen is appropriate for your child under age 1.
  • Moderate pain may require a mild opioid (narcotic), a drug that relieves pain and causes sleepiness. Other types of medicines may also be used.
  • Severe pain is usually treated by strong opioids, such as morphine or methadone.

Patients Take Medication in Different Ways

For example: Liquids, Pills, Patches, Suppositories, Injection

It is important to take your medications as prescribed by your doctor. Please discuss with your doctor any and all medications you are taking, including herbal or homeopathic substances. This is essential to establish the best pain-management plan for you.

Common Questions Regarding Pain Medicine

What if my pain medicine is not working?
Tell your healthcare provider. You may need a different dose or a different medication.

Will my pain medicine make me constipated?
Constipation is a common side effect of pain medicine. You can still take your medicine for pain. Check with your doctor or nurse about using a laxative or stool softener to prevent constipation. Increasing your intake of liquids, fruits, and vegetables may help reduce this.

What if my pain medicine makes me too sleepy?
Pain medicine can make you drowsy at first. Often this will go away after the first few doses. Check with your doctor if your drowsiness lasts longer than a couple of days. Do not drive or operate heavy equipment while taking pain medicine that alters your mental status.

Should I only take pain medicine when I have bad pain?
Pain is easier to control when it is mild. This may mean taking your pain medicine on a regular or scheduled basis. You should take your pain medicine when you start to notice pain. Waiting too long can make it much harder to control your pain.

As other questions arise, please do not hesitate to ask your healthcare provider.

Helpful Hints

Your pain medicine will work best if you are relaxed and have a comfortable environment. Ways to achieve this include:

  • Comfortable positioning
  • Dim lights
  • Deep breathing
  • Soft music
  • Heat or ice

Ask your nurse about which of these might be best for you.

Pain Management at Home

Be sure to take your medicine as prescribed by your doctor. If your pain medicine is not working, be sure to call your doctor.

Mass. Eye and Ear is committed to making your experience a good one. Write down any questions you have and talk to your doctor or nurse about them. This way, you and your doctor will be able to plan the most effective pain relief for you.

 

Page updated 2/12/09