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news News Thursday, July 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 11:28 AM - Thursday, July 19, 2018 11:28 AM

New preemptive pain management protocol

Due to the increasing awareness of the danger of opioids, the anesthesia and surgery departments at Shriners for Children Medical Center — Pasadena has found a new way to manage patient pain and limit opioid use, especially for postsurgical pain.

During the past two years, the medical center’s anesthesia department, led by Rick Bushnell, M.D., developed and put into practice the preemptive pain management protocol, or alternative pain management plan.

Prior to the implementation of the new protocol, pain management started only after surgery and relied mainly on opioids to relieve pain for many days.

The new protocol ensures pediatric patients have limited exposure to or a complete avoidance of opioids for pain management by using other medications as the main pain-relieving method. The non-opioid medications are started 48 hours before surgery. They are continued the morning of surgery and for only five days afterward. Opioids are only used as secondary medications in support of the non-opioid pain relievers.

Patients and physicians are already seeing the benefits of using the new protocol. The department of surgery’s research shows significant reductions in the length of in-patient stays when using the new preemptive pain management protocol. Most importantly, patients' families said they are much happier with the new pain management program and notice far fewer side effects with the non-opioid medications.

Shriners for Children Medical Center — Pasadena physicians take patient care very seriously. Their extra attention to safe treatment methods is reducing patient exposure to opioids, and implementation of the protocol aligns well with the nation’s new medical care plan for reducing opioid use. This encourages patients to speak with their physicians about alternative pain management solutions that avoid opioid prescriptions.

Now more aware of the dangers of opioids to children and teens, physicians are redoubling their efforts to prescribe as few opioids as possible during treatment. This is particularly important since academic literature has identified the pediatric patient population as the most vulnerable group that is at risk for future opioid abuse and dependence.

The new preemptive pain management protocol is recognized across the world. Physicians from Shriners for Children Medical Center — Pasadena have shared the new protocol in presentations at many medical and surgical societies in several cities, including San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas and Stockholm, Sweden.