Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) Sets New Standards for the Assessment and Management of Pain * -- August 3, 1999
Recognizing pain as a major, yet largely avoidable, public health problem, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations has developed standards that create new expectations for the assessment and management of pain in accredited hospitals and other health care settings. These standards have been endorsed by the American Pain Society.
Hospitals, home care agencies, nursing homes, behavioral health facilities, outpatient clinics and health plans will be called upon to:
* recognize the right of patients to appropriate assessment and management of pain;
* assess the existence and, if so, the nature and intensity of pain in all patients;
* record the results of the assessment in a way that facilitates regular reassessment and follow-up;
* determine and assure staff competency in pain assessment and management, and address pain assessment and management in the orientation of all new staff.
* establish policies and procedures which support the appropriate prescription or ordering of effective pain medications;
* educate patients and their families about effective pain management, and;
* address patient needs for symptom management in the discharge planning process.
I have excerpted the following comments from the above article:
The new standards explicitly acknowledge that pain is a co-existing condition with a number of diseases and injuries, and require explicit attention.
Unrelieved pain has enormous physiological and psychological effects on patients. The Joint Commission believes the effective management of pain is a crucial component of good care. Research clearly shows that unrelieved pain can slow recovery, create burdens for patients and their families, and increase costs to the health care system.
The new pain management standards - along with examples of compliance - are being included in 2000-2001 standard manuals for the affected Joint Commission accreditation programs.
These standards are putting the importance of pain management at center stage, ensuring that health care providers and professionals will take pain management in a serious way.
The 15th century proverb which summarizes the purpose of medicine is:
* To cure sometimes, to relieve often, to comfort always. *