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Pain project picks up prize

An innovative project which has helped improve pain management at West Suffolk Hospital has been awarded first prize at a national conference – just days after it was showcased as best practice on the international stage.

Called ‘pain – the fifth vital sign’, the initiative beat innovations from many other pain services across the country to win top prize at the National Acute Pain Conference, held in Chester. The news came just days after three staff from the service travelled to Montreal, in Canada, to share best practice and learn from other initiatives taking place across the world.

Pain management was given a high profile in the 2009 chief medical officer’s report. In the document, Sir Liam Donaldson recommended that pain should be treated as the fifth vital sign, and assessed alongside temperature, pulse, blood pressure and respiratory rate during every patient observation.

West Suffolk became one of the country’s first hospitals to act on the report, introducing a new training programme for the majority of nursing staff. As well as receiving a refresher on the importance of monitoring pain, staff were given full guidance on various methods for assessment, including numerical 0-10 scales, verbal indicators and observation techniques for use with patients who are unable to vocalise the levels of pain they are experiencing. Quarterly audits carried out since have shown significant improvements across all clinical areas.

Dr Patricia Mills, consultant anaesthetist and pain specialist, attended the conference in Chester. She said: “The team has worked extremely hard to drive forward this project, and we were absolutely delighted that the judges awarded us first prize.

“Pain management has always been a part of the mandatory training completed by our clinical staff. This initiative has formalised the monitoring process to ensure that the level of pain a patient is experiencing is carefully recorded each time their vital signs are checked. This means that we can be absolutely sure that the action we are taking to reduce their pain is having a positive effect.”

The award comes shortly after members of the pain team attended a conference organised by the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP). Two nurse specialists and a doctor went to the event to share best practice and learn from elsewhere, with the trip to Canada funded by the British Pain Society with contributions from the individuals themselves.

Christine Waters, clinical nurse specialist for pain, said: “The conference gave us a wonderful opportunity to present the findings from the project at West Suffolk to our colleagues all around the world.

“As well as showcasing our best practice, we also came back from the conference with lots of ideas as to how we could improve our services still further, which we will be looking at in more detail over the coming weeks and months.

“Monitoring pain has become a key issue across the globe during the past few years. We are really proud that West Suffolk Hospital is leading the way and driving though these initiatives for the benefit of our patients.”

Last updated: 04 Oct 2010 10:53:55.367

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