Nurses key in opioid pain management

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Nurses are uniquely qualified to help control the pain of institutionalized patients undergoing pain management with opioid analgesics, according to new recommendations from a nursing panel.

While pain management is increasingly effective and successful with opioid analgesics, in hospitals and nursing homes, the medications carry the risk of unintentional sedation and respiratory depression, according to a panel appointed by the American Society for Pain Management Nursing.

The panel performed an analysis of research and guidelines currently in place for opioid analgesics, and conducted a nationwide survey to evaluate monitoring practices carried out by nurses.

The study's authors note that there have not yet been any randomized clinical trials that measure the value of technologic monitoring to prevent respiratory complications from the use of opioids.

But empowering nurses to formulate individualized patient care plans, using safe administration techniques and applying appropriate monitoring practices can minimize adverse events, according to the panel's report, published in the journal Pain Management Nursing.