Practice Economics

Hospitalist-Pain Expert Collaboration Educates Providers, Boosts Patient Satisfaction


A collaboration between hospitalists and the pain department at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City is helping hospitalists address moderate to severe pain and complicating factors in their patients.

“The idea was to impart knowledge from a small group of experts to the hospitalists who manage pain in the majority of hospitalized patients,” says Dahlia Rizk, DO, chief of hospital medicine at Beth Israel and lead author on a poster that described the program and was presented at HM13 in Washington, D.C.1

Dr. Rizk first approached Russell Portenoy, MD, internationally recognized chair of the Department of Pain Management and Palliative Care at Beth Israel, to draw upon his specialized knowledge. Grant funding supported protected time for two hospitalist champions and a nurse practitioner; they reviewed charts on participating units and conducted focus groups with hospitalists to identify barriers to effective pain management. Barriers were compiled into a 56-item menu and shaped the curriculum for weekly training sessions presented by the pain service.

Dr. Portenoy and the project team also established a metric for “high sustained pain,” patients reporting three or more days of three or more episodes of moderate to severe pain, according to the hospital’s standardized pain assessment scale. The information was captured in a computerized, tablet-based “Live View” tool that shows all of the patients on a unit and their incidences of high sustained pain over a week. The tool is used for rounding on patients and identifying those needing an immediate interdisciplinary focus.

Project results, Dr. Rizk reported, include improvements in high sustained pain scores on six of seven participating units and average reductions in the number of identified barriers to pain. Hospitalists reported increased comfort with adjusting pain therapies, while patient satisfaction scores with pain management also increased.

“Not everyone has access to an expert like Dr. Portenoy, but we’ve now done the root cause analysis and barriers list,” Dr. Rizk says. “I also think this approach could be applied more widely to other problem areas. We plan to try something similar with geriatrics.”

For more information about the collaborative and its pain problem list, contact Dr. Rizk at [email protected]

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