As a nurse who has been in practice since 1973, I have witnessed many of the successes of our healthcare system and many of the failures. The most challenging has been how we manage pain in our country. It seems we went from one side of the pendulum where we watch people suffer in pain to treating people with drugs that relieved their pain – but at the same time caused them to be addicted and spiral to a life of dependence, desperation, and fear.
I remember when Oxycontin was introduced and billed as a miracle drug to help people manage acute and chronic pain. As a critical care nurse, I was invited to CE programs held at the best restaurants in the city to learn about oxycontin and how it would change the way we managed pain. Also in attendance were doctors who were really the point person for the pharmaceutical rep. They wanted them to understand the power of Oxy so they could write scrips for their patients. As a nurse and then as a case manger, I could not diagnose, but I could influence physicians to give the patient something to relieve his/her pain. As an emergency department nurse, I saw various people who came through our doors in pain and who were desperate for help. I urged the ED doctor to see the patient and give him something. Most times we had to wait for the results of the diagnostic test, that often did not show anything acute, I gave the various drugs to help relieve the pain. Sometimes they worked, and sometimes they were a band-aide to placate the patient. Over time we saw the same people come and go. We labeled their frequent flyers, drug seekers, and despairing names. In the end it was our failure was not understanding how to manage pain.
It was a frustrating and challenging time. Years later, we are just starting to see the effects of what using narcotics such as Oxy and other addicting drugs have done to our patients. Today, we are learning how much we don’t know about pain, pain management, and how to treat it effectively. We are welcoming new treatments such as acupuncture, mind/body mediation, yoga and other non-pharmaceuticals to successfully treat and help our patients manage pain.
As an avid LINKEDIN reader, I read a post by Dr. Arun Gupta, who talked about a book he wrote: The Preventable Epidemic. The book looks at the Opioid Epidemic from a frontline doctor’s experience and provides recommendations to resolve the crisis. It intrigued me and I wrote to him to ask for a copy of his book so I could review it and report on it here to share with readers of Nurse Advocate. .
The book does a great job of tracing the history and the impact of the opioid epidemic on the world. The book looks at how the epidemic started, how it was perpetuated, and recommendations to resolve it. The book is a solid read from a frontline doctor who has lived this war and has put down in this book recommendations that will help all professionals on the front lines who work with people with acute and chronic pain across all age groups and settings.
The book exposes the problems we, as an industry, have with treating pain and how we can and must do better. It is a must-read for physicians, clinical nurses, case managers, patient advocates, and therapists who work with people with chronic pain throughout our comprehensive healthcare system. Dr. Gupta’s book provides a new perspective on managing pain and helping our patients move on to a productive life. Click here is a link to get your copy today.
Have a good week!