- New Pain Management Standards Released

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New Pain Management Standards Released


      (NUISM) - Susan Wolf, 42, began experiencing chronic pain almost 20 years ago when diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. The pain became so disruptive that she was forced to end her advertising career and had difficulty with basic daily activities. "The pain took over my whole life. I experienced pain deep down in my joints - from my neck to my feet," explains Susan.

      More than 120 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, and 50 million workdays are lost due to chronic pain. Annual costs for chronic pain alone are estimated at nearly $50 billion.

      Recognizing pain and its undertreatment as a major, yet largely avoidable, public health problem, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations has developed the first-ever, evidence-based standards for pain management. The standards recognize that every patient has the right to seek and receive appropriate pain assessment and management.

      Adherence to the standards will lower health system costs by reducing hospital stays and readmissions for uncontrolled pain, and enable pain to be managed at home.

      "The new standards set firm new expectations for the management of pain for patients in all types of accredited organizations," says Dennis O''Leary, M.D., president, Joint Commission.

      Susan Wolf, who had 10 operations in 10 years, was initially prescribed aspirin and one tablet of pain medication every few days. When the pain increased over time and she asked for more medication, her doctor told her she was an addict and needed to get off the medication.

      She eventually turned to another doctor for help and was prescribed a new program including daily visits to the pharmacy to pick up a daily dose of medication.

      When her pain continued to be unbearable, Susan found a pain specialist who recognized that her pain was undertreated and put her on an appropriate pain management program. Now her life has completely turned around. "Most people think I will be in bed all day or unable to function while taking pain medication. It''s the opposite," says Susan. "I have become a more productive person, handling the family finances, including our taxes, and swimming every day."

      Developing systems and processes to comply with the standards is now part of any health care facility''s requirement for accreditation with the Joint Commission.

      For a free "Helping You Choose" brochure on how to identify quality health care services, visit the Joint Commission''s Web site at or call the Joint Commission''s Customer Service Center at (630) 792-5800, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Central time weekdays.



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