October 14, 2014
Pain after surgery greatly decreased in the last 10 years
A new study shows that pain severity among post-surgical patients has decreased by 24 percent since 2003. The study, presented at the ANESTHESIOLOGY™ 2014 annual meeting, shows vast improvements in the field of pain management for surgical patients.
“During the last 10 years there have been significant changes in hospitals to support better pain management post-surgery,” said Asokumar Buvanendran, M.D., director of orthopedic anesthesia at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and lead study author. “Our study shows that health care providers are implementing better pain protocols and heading in the right direction.”
Researchers surveyed 441 patients before they were discharged from the hospital and one, two and three weeks after surgery. The survey asked patients to grade their levels of pain intensity on a scale from no pain to extreme pain. They also asked patients to rate their satisfaction with the pain medication they were given. Researchers then compared the collected survey data with data from a similar study conducted between 1998-2002 and written in 2003.
Patients who experienced moderate-to-severe pain two weeks after surgery decreased from 63 percent in the 2003 study to 39 percent in the 2014 study. The proportion of patients reporting “no pain” remained the same in both studies, at 22 percent.
The findings show that patient satisfaction with pain management is high and was high in the previous study as well. Most patients in both studies reported that they were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their pain management.
According to Dr. Buvanendran, increased measures put in place by hospitals and the involvement of perioperative physicians such as physician anesthesiologists are leading to fewer incidences of moderate to severe pain among post-surgical patients, which is important because pain is one of the three most common medical causes that delay a patient from going home.
“Greater awareness among health care providers and the implementation of advanced pain measures have led to great improvements. We are moving forward, but there is still plenty to be done to improve pain management and the quality of health care.”