About 57 percent of patients having surgery describe pain as the thing they fear most about the surgery. And uncontrolled pain is the most common reason for readmission following surgery. Pain and its management are now being recognized as important components of medical care as evidenced by hospitals, health care providers and insurance companies including pain assessment as “the fifth vital sign."
After surgery, patients generally experience pain, which we call acute pain because of the proximity to the precipitating factor, and usually this lasts for about five to seven days. Some procedures are associated with pain lasting for a longer or shorter period. Here at the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC), we recognize the importance of pain management, and we are here to help our patients recover quickly with the least amount of pain. We believe that controlling pain is important not only to make our patients more comfortable but also to allow them to participate in activities that promote recovery from surgery.
The Acute Pain Service (APS) at UMMC is committed to reducing postoperative pain and assisting with the early phases of rehabilitation from surgery. Our goal is to provide effective and safe pain management for all of our surgical patients. The APS consists of a specialized team of clinicians with expertise in postoperative pain management, including board-certified anesthesiologists and anesthesia resident physicians. The APS is a consult service that does not provide routine management for patients on IV-PCA, but will do so at the request of the patient’s primary service. Chronic pain management physicians may be consulted as well should the need arise.
Patients will receive state-of-the-art postoperative pain control from the APS both in terms of analgesic agents or “pain relievers” and in the techniques used to administrate them. Patients with special needs should be sure to inform their surgeon and the pain management team before surgery.
The APS at UMMC typically employs a multimodal regimen to control postoperative pain. This means that several different types of pain relievers are used to help reduce pain by different mechanisms. This helps to limit the side effects of high doses of one pain reliever while reaping the benefits of complimentary analgesia from each technique.
Epidural analgesia, nerve blocks, continuous nerve blocks, local anesthetics, opioids and anti-inflammatory drugs are among the modes of pain relievers currently employed at UMMC. In fact, we are one of the few centers in the country using ultrasound guidance in nerve blocks.
The APS at the University of Mississippi Medical Center provides daily 24-hour coverage and management of patients with postoperative, post-traumatic and other types of acute pain requiring specialized intervention such as epidural analgesia, continuous peripheral nerve blockade and complex pharmacological management.
The APS is available to assist the surgical team with a postoperative pain management strategy tailored for the individual patient. Patients followed on our service typically have some type of peripheral nerve or epidural catheter in place. Our goal is to assist with placement of those catheters prior to surgery so early assessment of its function can be made. These patients are seen in the Post Anesthesia Care Unit, and their pain and catheter function is reassessed. The APS will visit the patient at least daily and more often if necessary while the pain catheter is in place.
An attending anesthesiologist and senior resident on call after hours, on weekends, and holidays are available for pain management issues that arise during these hours.