Gains reported in war against post-surgical pain

The percentage of patients reporting moderate to extreme pain two weeks after surgery has plummeted in the last decade thanks to better understanding of how different classes of pain medications work, a new survey found.

Overall patient satisfaction with post-op pain meds has increased slightly, from 83 percent in 2003 to 87 percent this year, according to the survey, reported by HealthDay News. But the proportion of patients reporting moderate to severe pain two weeks after surgery tumbled from 63 percent in 2003 to 39 percent today. About 20 percent of the 400 hospital inpatients queried reported no pain two weeks after surgery, the same as in 2003.

That's potentially good news for hospitals hoping to boost their patient satisfaction ratings, since post-surgical pain evaluations track closely with overall patient satisfaction scores during hospital stays.

"It's not due to any one drug we're using," Asokumar Buvanendran, M.D., director of orthopedic anesthesia at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, told HealthDay News. "Instead, it's reflective of the more sophisticated understanding we are acquiring of how pain medications actually work best."

Buvanendran was scheduled to present the findings Tuesday at the American Society of Anesthesiologists' annual meeting in New Orleans.

A separate study recently found increased patient satisfaction with pain management in government-owned, for-profit and nonprofit hospitals, but noted there's room for improvement.

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