Creating More Patient Autonomy for Pain Management Through a "Pain Poster"

Intervention Title:
Creating More Patient Autonomy for Pain Management Through a “Pain Poster” – University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), Pittsburgh, Pa.

Improve pain management and help patients understand dosing schedules.

Staff placed a “Pain Poster” in patient rooms with specifics on medication and the availability of the next dose.

Results include improved management of pain and more-informed patients.

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
200 Lothrop St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-2582
P: (412) 647- 8762

From the experts:
“Helping patients manage their pain can be critical to their recovery. Since instituting the pain poster, our patients are more informed about their pain medication and families are better educated and less worried about their patient's care.”

Deborah Kosky, B.S.
Unit Director
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is composed of 19 hospitals and a network of other care sites across western Pennsylvania and throughout the world.

Clinical areas affected:

  • All hospital units

Staff involved:

  • Nurses
  • Physical therapists
  • Physicians
  • Pharmacists

Staff tested the tool for seven months on the unit and later adopted its use across many sites. Data are available for all sites in the system.

Irma D'Antonio, B.S.N.
UPMC Shadyside Institute for Quality and Innovation
P: (412) 623-3029

Innovation implementation:
Caregivers began to notice a trend in patients not going to physical therapy after joint (hip/knee) replacement surgery because they were not sure when their next doses of pain medication would be available. Time was being wasted locating nurses to identify when pain medication was due.

Nurses found that writing down and showing a patient when they last had pain medication increased patient satisfaction. To streamline the process and establish a clear system to indicate pain medication schedules, a pain poster was developed to indicate what medication was available for the patient for pain control, when the patient last received medication and when the next dose was available. Patients were asked for input to develop the poster.

The pain poster began to serve as a communications tool for family and patients to be educated on pain management. Families were more informed and less worried about their loved one's care because they had answers about the patient's pain medication at their fingertips. Additionally, ancillary services such as physical therapy and occupational therapy were informed of the patient's pain management.

Advice and lessons learned:

  1. Believe the patient. Patients help inform the situation and should be trusted.
  2. Push out information. Educating patients makes it easier and more efficient to care for them.
  3. Streamline information. Efficiencies were improved because everyone was looking at the same information.

Cost/benefit estimate:
Benefits include an eight percent increase in patient satisfaction and an eight percent increase in Press Ganey survey scores indicating how well patients thought their pain was controlled.