Wednesday, January 19, 2011

How Long Is Your Loved One Left In Pain?

The time is 2:15pm. The patient begun to complain of pain. His pain level is a 5 out of 10. The charge nurse is requested to medicate the patient for pain. The charge nurse(CN) says that she will tell the Medication Aide(CMA) that the patient needs to be medicated for pain, but is busy at the moment and will let her know when she comes back. So you’re thinking that the CMA is busy medicating someone, and in good faith you’re thinking that the CN is going to have the CMA medicate your loved one when she comes out of the room of another patient.
It’s now 2:30pm. You go back to the nurse’s station to find out why your loved one isn’t medicated yet for pain, who is still suffering pain. The the CN tell’s you that the CMA is out on a 30 minute break and she will have her to medicate the patient as soon as she gets back.
So as smart as you are, you asked the CN, “Don’t you have a backup for when someone needs medicated for breakthrough pain?” She then replies,”No we don’t. The CMA is responsible for medicating the patient.” The CMA returns and the patient is finally medicated for pain at 2:50pm. That patient had a 35 minute wait to get medicated for pain in a long-term care facility when the medication is on hand is ridiculous to say the least. People this goes on in many nursing homes not just here in Houston, Texas, but in other states to I hear. What is wrong with this picture.
I have been in a nursing home that when the CMA is out on lunch break, then the CN would medicate the patient..The problem, I’m told, is fear of liability. The CMA’s do drug counts at shift change and are responsible for dispensing medications to the patient. So, if the count is off, no one can blame the CN. In some nursing homes the CN is in control of giving narcotics, and benzodiazepines such as Lorazepam, etc. Acetaminophen suppositories are generally in common stock.
I’m almost certain if that health care worker’s loved one was in that bed suffering s/he would have found a way of getting him or her medicated to relieve the pain. I’m sure that if that nurse or CMA was lying in that bed in pain would have been ranting, and raving about not getting pain relief medicine promptly.
You should report this concern to the Director of Nursing, Associate Director of Nursing, or the Administrator as soon as possible. The administrator could possibly influence policy. They may not be in if it’s after business hours. You can also report it to the Ombudsman’s office which has a phone number usually posted on the wall somewhere near the administrative office or on the wall at the ends of the hallways. If this is a concern for you in your state where there are vagueness of law concerning such intervention, you can also contact your state representative to see about having something done by law to make sure a patient is covered for getting pain relief. Remember pain is emotional as well as physical., and spiritual.

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