Facts about pain management | Joint Commission
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Facts about Pain Management

February 2, 2015

It is estimated that in the United States more than 76 million people suffer from pain. Pain can be chronic or acute, such as post-surgical pain.

Pain management requirements

The Joint Commission has pain management standards for ambulatory care facilities, behavioral health care organizations, critical access hospitals, home care settings, hospitals, office-based surgery practices, and nursing care centers. The standards require organizations to: 

  • Recognize the right of patients, residents or clients to appropriate assessment and management of pain

  • Screen patients, residents or clients for pain during their initial assessment and, when clinically required, during ongoing, periodic re-assessments

  • Educate patients, residents or clients suffering from pain, and their families, about pain management

The pain management standards require that patients, residents or clients be asked about pain, depending on the service the organization is providing. There are some services that do not require a pain assessment; for example, if a patient is being X-rayed. However, if a patient, resident or client is experiencing pain, appropriate care should be made available. The organization’s response to a person’s pain is based on the services it provides. If screening indicates that pain exists, the organization may assess and treat the pain; assess the pain and refer the patient for treatment; or refer the patient, resident or client for further assessment. Patients, residents or clients are encouraged to report pain and to cooperate with the prescribed treatment.

The pain management standards were developed in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin – Madison Medical School as part of a project funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Health care professionals, professional groups and associations, including consumer groups and purchasers, were involved in the development of the standards.

For most accreditation programs, the pain management standards appear in the Provision of Care, Treatment and Services (PC) and the Rights and Responsibilities of the Individual (RI) chapters of The Joint Commission’s accreditation manuals. For the behavioral health care program, the pain management standards will appear in the Care, Treatment and Services (CTS) chapter, effective July 2015. The Joint Commission standards can be purchased online from Joint Commission Resources (JCR) or by calling 877-223-6866.

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