Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Pain: What About Patient Centered Care?

This week I had a hand operation that involved the rearrangement of bones and tendons. In case you have not read much about orthopedic surgery it often involves power tools, and may cause you to feel pain after the procedure is over and the nerve block wears off.

In the past I have accepted the usual prescriptions for percocet and Tylenol 3, but this time I refused them since they make me sick to my stomach. Nothing like surgery and throwing up to make you feel really bad.

The plan for another type of pain relief did not work very well at all. I was given a prescription for a different type of pain pill and told to take 1 or 2 every 3 hours. How patient friendly is that? How could you manage to sleep?

perfect pain killer?

If these pills were so ineffective that they would only help with the pain for three hours that just doesn't seem good enough. What kind of patient friendly dosage schedule means you take pills every 3 hours? I phoned the surgeon about this and he did not even understand the point I was trying to make.

Let's just imagine we were talking to a Doctor like Victor Montori, who has sympathy for what is now known as the burden of disease. I wonder if he might think of a better way?

Burden of disease is crushing

I was about to delete this blog post until I ran it by a few friends. 

This is what Lucy thought: 

"I don't know what it is with pain medication but I think they think we are all addicts. When I had my knee replaced I had to fight for more pain medication in the hospital and then when I went home they gave me barely enough to last two weeks. Thank goodness my doctor agreed to give me more. Another patient at Physio had hardly been given anything by his hospital and couldn't do his therapy. It was really awful - he didn't have a GP to go to for help. 

I always meant to talk to my surgeon about this and I will in future as I think it is something they need to look at."

And Joanne agreed to an extent:

"I agree with you on the pain pills and with Lucy's comments. The drugs they give us going out of the hospital are completely inadequate both in dosage and in # of pills. I got too little after my hip surgery. Only enough for 3-5 days. I don't know the equivalence but after the hip experience, I asked my GP for a prescription in advance of hand surgery and had plenty of pills. Even that didn't get rid of the pain entirely. 

The fact that my pills had acetaminophen in them was also an issue because it would have taken me above my daily limit. If I have any more surgeries, I will request drugs in advance from my GP. From 3 surgeries, it doesn't seem to me that the hospitals will bend on this issue. I hope your pain begins to subside soon."

Whatever happened to patient centered care? Is it any wonder that patients don't always follow instructions?!

When you obviously have pain, beyond a shadow of a doubt, you can't even get adequate pain relief. That adds even more weight to the previous post about the difficulty of getting pain relief with chronic pain.