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Your first year as a registered nurse is challenging. This podcast is hosted by Kati Kleber, BSN RN CCRN and Elizabeth Mills, BSN RN CCRN and features experienced nurses from, who discuss the basics of that first year. From nursing orientation, code blues, tricks of the trade, and personal experiences, to time management, delegation, patient deaths, and more.

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Download the Season 2, Episode 005 show notes or view them below

Pain Management Tips Show Notes

Nursing Pain Management Tips – Show Notes

CORRECTION – in the episode we refer to something called substance abuse disorder. The appropriate term is substance use disorder.

This episode covers the important difference between pain management and pain elimination, patient education, appropriate assessment, a proactive approach to pain management versus reactive, and some essential definitions.

Striking the balance between too much pain medicine and not enough can be tough for any nurse, let alone a brand new nurse. What throws a big wrench in everything is the fact that we, as a nation, are experiencing a very real and very devastating epidemic of opioid use and abuse. Bedside nurses feel the brunt of this due to many patients requesting sometimes very concerning amounts of intravenous pain medications at alarming intervals. Here are some tips from bedside nurses about pain management.

A few helpful links diving deeper into the opioid epidemic

Set realistic expectations

  • What does “treat pain” means to this specific patient?
    • Do they think you’re going to eliminate all pain, or bring it down to a manageable level?
  • Pain management versus pain elimination – know the difference
  • If possible, educate before a surgery or procedure so they know what to expect and if they’ll have any movement limitations
    • For example, lying flat for 6 hours post femoral sheath placement

Proactive education

  • Ideally provided before planned surgeries by the MD
    • What kind of pain is to be expected with various issues
  • Educate about pain medications, how long they last, when to let you know that they need another dose
  • Identify what level of comfort is tolerable
  • Explain pain scales BEFORE if possible
  • Some think the pain management that occurs in the PACU continues on the floor (frequent assessments and IV pain med administration), but it does not and many are not aware
  • Special scenarios – like neuro, where we can’t overmedicate due to its impact on the patient assessment
  • Always think about transitions – IV to PO, weaning off PO
  • Ensure the patient knows what “pain meds” means and that it
    • Many don’t know which specific pain meds to request if multiple kinds are ordered (for example, when IV morphine and PO norco are both ordered and the patient requests “pain meds,” don’t just give whatever the last nurse gave – have a conversation about the specific medication to be given)
  • Balance between comfort and overmedicate and unable to participate in care

When you think you’re being manipulated

Please read Nurse Beth’s 6 steps in this article – Nurse Beth’s 6 steps are below, they are incredibly helpful and realistic:

  1. Check your judgemental attitude
  2. Be realistic
  3. Understand your job
  4. Take control
  5. Do not engage in a power struggle
  6. Be professional

More Resources

Fundamentals of Pain Medicine: How to Diagnose and Treat your PatientsFundamentals of Pain Medicine: How to Diagnose and Treat your PatientsCore Curriculum for Pain Management Nursing - E-BookCore Curriculum for Pain Management Nursing – E-BookPain Management Pocketcard SetPain Management Pocketcard SetPain Management Nursing Exam Study Guide: Test Prep and Practice Test Questions for the Pain Management Nursing ExamPain Management Nursing Exam Study Guide: Test Prep and Practice Test Questions for the Pain Management Nursing Exam