Tag Archives: PFAC

Thoughts On Pain


A few years ago there was a frank, open, and honest discussion about pain among patients, staff, family and community members that was quite enlightening.  Several important and interesting things were brought up that today’s “Opiate Abuse” culture could learn from:

  • Patients need to be included in discussions about their pain, and pain management plans.
  • People have differing pain tolerances – some can stand only a little pain while others feel they can handle a great deal of pain.
  • People have differing pain expectations.  They may not understand the full implications of what will happen and/or what options may be available to help them.
  • Clinicians sometimes expect that patients must be feeling pain (or shouldn’t be feeling pain) when that may not necessarily be the case.
  • Clinicians (i.e. physicians and nurses) should always discuss the following types of things with the patient:
    • How much pain can usually be expected in this type of situation?  How long could it last?
    • Perhaps some pain will have to be present, it is not always possible (or wise) to completely get rid of all the pain.
    • What is the patient’s expectation around pain relief?
    • Does the patient want pain medications?
    • Does the patient desire no pain medications?
    • Has the patient had reactions to pain, or other, medications?
    • What is the patient’s pain goal? (it may not always be zero)
    • What is the patient’s normal pain level? (esp. for chronic pain patients)

The important thing to remember is that every person is an individual.  The more open and frank the discussion between patients and clinicians is, the better the outcomes will be for all concerned.

There is no “one size fits all” solution to pain and pain management.  Person-centered care is the answer.  The more that society, government officials, the health care industry, and the media start working to that end, the better off individuals, their families, and the country will be.

Patient & Family Advisory Council


A patient having his blood pressure taken by a...

A patient having his blood pressure taken by a physician. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I’m blogging early today because tonight I’ll be in my monthly, late-in-the-day meeting.  It’s the Exempla Saint Joseph Hospital Patient & Family Advisory Council (PFAC).

 

PFAC is a committee made up of staff, patients, family members, and interested community members.  They work together to work on or give guidance and suggestions for projects around the hospital that can more positively impact the patients there.

 

If you have ever been in, or had a family member in, the hospital or if you or a family member have ever worked in a hospital, you probably noticed that some things seemed disconnected or disjointed.  I have been on both sides (patient/family member and staff) and can attest to the fact that each has certain ideas about the other and not all of those thoughts are necessarily true.

 

For instance, when you are a patient at the hospital and the doctor says he wants to run a test to see if he can determine the cause of your ailment, you figure he will go out, order the test, and someone will take you right over to get the test done.  Then the doctor will have the answer.

 

But, what you as a patient don’t realize is that a hospital is not a single entity but actually more like a little city. The doctor will write the order for the test, which is then passed along to the department doing the test.  They have to work you into the schedule since there can be multiple patients getting tested there along with possible tests being done on people who are not patients but are coming in to the hospital to have that test also done.  Once you are on the schedule, you have to be taken to that department at the appointed time.  Some type of transport will be called for.  You go to have the test, perhaps there is some preparation you need so the test can be done.  Once you have completed the test, you will be taken back to your room.

 

Now the doctor gets the test results, right?  Perhaps.  And perhaps the test needs to be read or translated and transcribed onto a report.  Then the report has to be communicated to the doctor.  If it is not communicated to him by the time he wants to see it, he may have to call over to get the results himself.  Now he will communicate the results with you.

 

Each of these steps involves additional people and can take additional time.  So it can be later in the day or even the following day before you get the result of the test the doctor decided needed to be done for you.

 

And on the other side, the hospital (i.e. little city) figures that you naturally know that there are multiple departments (shops) involved in getting this test done for you and they will all try to do their best to work it in in a timely manner and to take care of each little step involved while still taking care of you and all the other patients, family members, and doctors, etc.

 

Anyway, I’ve long thought it would be a great idea for staff and patients to communicate with each other better so each understands the other’s viewpoints and issues.  The PFAC committee is a great step in that very process.  And especially since Saint Joseph is building a brand new building to move into, the committee has a chance to give input and work together on a variety of topics, including something as simple as what type of telephone to provide in the patient rooms!