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Joint Commission Reassesses Pain Management

Potera, Carol

AJN The American Journal of Nursing: November 2017 - Volume 117 - Issue 11 - p 13
doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000526730.60410.1a
In the News

New guidelines go into effect in January.

Carol Potera

The Joint Commission has released new guidelines for pain assessment and management at accredited hospitals, among them that hospitals designate a leader or team to be responsible for pain management and safe opioid prescribing practices, and that patients be included in the development of treatment plans.

Hospitals should also screen patients for pain during ED visits and on admission. Further assessment is recommended of the impact of pain on hospitalized patients’ physical functions, such as turning over in bed or walking. At discharge, the patient and family should have a plan that includes managing opioid adverse effects; identifying activities that increase pain or reduce the effectiveness of treatment; and safe use, storage, and disposal of opioids.

To promote safe opioid use, the Joint Commission suggests using prescription drug monitoring program databases to identify patients at risk for addiction, and maintain a list of addiction treatment programs appropriate for patient referrals. Patients treated with opioids should be closely monitored for adverse events, and the data collected from such monitoring should be analyzed to identify ways to improve patient safety.

“I applaud the Joint Commission for leading the way in continuing to support patient safety by revising their pain assessment and management standards to more specifically address practices related to opioid administration,” said Karen S. Hill, chief operating officer and chief nursing officer at Baptist Health Lexington, in Lexington, Kentucky. Her organization plans to implement the new guidelines, Hill told AJN, and she urged others to do so.

The new requirements start on January 1, 2018, and are available at—Carol Potera

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