July 1, 2014 – Pain Relief


Anchor lead:  Will people still be able get medications to treat pain after so much focus on prescription drug abuse? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Some years ago pain was identified for healthcare providers as the ‘fifth vital sign,’ and focus on pain relief intensified, with a concomitant increase in prescriptions for powerful pain relievers.  Now the focus is on prescription drug abuse, and these prescriptions are being closely scrutinized.  What does this mean for people in pain?  Patricia Davidson, dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, comments.

Davidson: We have to make our armamentarium of treatment of pain much more sophisticated.  We know for example that anxiety can exacerbate pain.  We know that there’s some very effective treatments such as visualization and distraction.  For some people with severe pain opioids are clearly a critical strategy, but I think that there are a lot of other drivers in the healthcare system that make it easier just to write a prescription for a pain medication than to really talk to people.   :32

At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.