Better outcomes in pain management can help bring down hospital lengths of stay while driving up patient and staff satisfaction, adds Dr. Bekanich. Conversely, unrelieved pain not only leads to unnecessary suffering but also to patients who are depressed, slower to get up and start walking or eating, and reluctant to take deep breaths. “It’s hard to discharge a hospitalized patient whose pain is still out of control,” he says.
Dr. Bekanich reports that his own interest in learning pain management techniques resulted from watching his grandmother experience severe pain while struggling with cancer. “That was the driving force for me to say, ‘We can do so much better at this,’ and then get the training I needed,” he says.
Dr. Bekanich attended conferences offered by the Center to Advance Palliative Care and the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. “I started to read a lot more in the pain literature,” he explains. “Initially, I was somewhat self-conscious about putting the new techniques into effect. So I’d call a pharmacist or a mentor to double check. I’m glad I did that.” TH
Larry Beresford is a regular contributor to The Hospitalist.
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- Weissman DE. Fast Fact and Concept #71: Meperidine for pain—what’s all the fuss? [The End of Life/Palliative Education Resource Center.] Available at: www.eperc.mcw.edu/fastFact/ff_71.htm. Last accessed February 19, 2007.