The #1 Thing Nurses Feel Patients are Most Unprepared For


pain management chartAs part of a large national program to improve the patient experience, we recently surveyed more than 500 orthopedic nurses and asked them, “Which of the following do you feel patients are most UNprepared for when they come to your hospital for orthopedic surgery?”

Their #1 response? PAIN MANAGEMENT. As you can see in the chart, 43% of respondents chose pain management above discharge, insurance, mobility or home prep.

Here, in their own words, are their top concerns:

“We do have inconsistency with our doctors in what info they are giving patients. An example is an anesthesiologist will give a block and tell the patient ‘you will not have any pain when you first get up.'”

“We need better coordination with doctors as to what to expect. For example, doctors seem to breeze through the process and not explain that pain is highly probable, you HAVE to move and you need someone at home to help you 24/7.”

“We need to help patients understand realistic expectations when it comes to pain control following surgery. It does hurt, but we will do our best to manage your pain. 0/10 pain is not realistic.”

“Patients hear what they want. Most are shocked by the amount of pain they have after a total joint replacement, especially a knee.”

“Many patients are afraid of pain medication. They wory about being addicted. Better preparation about using pain medication would be very helpful.”

We also asked nurses their top tips for pain management. Here is what they said:

“Discuss a pain management plan prior to surgery. Educate on what to expect, pain control and comfort options. Explain the difference between arthritic pain and surgical pain. This includes the families so they don’t think we’re ignoring our patients!”

“Helping the patient understand that surgery will cause pain (but will be managed to a tolerable state) will assist the patient understand what they are going through is not abnormal and will be encouraging to the patient.”

“Be ahead of the game, do not wait for them to ask! Stay ahead of the pain, be sure to medicate ahead of physical therapy treatments.”

“Patients need to know that they need to speak-up if pain management is inadequate and they need an advocate to speak on their behalf until something is done. We all know that pain impedes progress, but don’t always do enough to help our patients.”

“The doctors do not tell them they will be in pain… that alone can help and we will do our best to work together to manage the pain.”

Using pro-active communication, hospitals can start educating and setting expectations for the elective patient before they even step through the hospital doors. For example, surgery patients can get a realistic idea of what their pain level will be and can agree to a target pain range to keep it manageable.

Pain management is more than managing the pain; it is also about managing the perceptions. As part of our commitment to find new solutions to persistent patient challenges, we’re hosting a free webinar November 7th with Edward Leigh, MA, the Founder & Director of The Center for Healthcare Communication, on “Patients, Pain & Their Perceptions: Powerful Techniques to Help Patients Manage Pain Before, During and After a Hospitalization.” In this content-rich and high-energy event you will learn the following:

  • Surefire methods of communicating with patients through the continuum of care (pre-hospitalization, in-patient and post-hospitalization).
  • Top tips to improve your bottom line by increasing reimbursement via increasing scores on this common patient satisfaction survey question, “How often was your pain well controlled?”
  • How to avoid patients from becoming angry and frustrated regarding their pain management. (Once a patient’s situation escalates to a significant level of emotional intensity, it will very difficult to change their perceptions; prevention is the key!)
  • Reworking the commonly used “1-10 pain scale” to focus on a more detailed, yet simple to administer method.
  • Communicating with patients about the addition of non-pharmaceutical methods of pain management. Both methods can be blended to create super-satisfied patients!

Come prepared for invigorating session to address a top concern… Register now!


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Are you offering Nurses Continuing Ed credit??

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