Survey: Pain Patients Give Hospitals Low Marks

More than half rate treatment as poor or very poor

Eight out of ten pain patients feel hospital staff members have not been adequately trained in pain management, and more than half rate the quality of their pain care in hospitals as poor or very poor, according to a new survey from Pain News Network .

More than 1,250 acute and chronic pain patients participated in the online assessment. 

Asked to rate the overall quality of their medical care in hospitals, about a third of the respondents said it was good or very good; 37% said it was fair; and 29% said it was poor or very poor. Some said they were so badly treated and traumatized by the experience, they were afraid to go back.

When the respondents were asked to rate only the quality of their pain treatment, the survey results were decidedly negative. Approximately 52% said their pain treatment in hospitals was poor or very poor; 25% rated it fair; and 23% said it was good or very good.

Many patients stated that their pain went untreated or under-treated, even though pain was usually the primary reason they were admitted to a hospital.

There is some evidence to support the contention that untreated or under-treated acute pain can turn into chronic pain. A 2006 study in the Lancet warned that an alarmingly high number of patients develop chronic pain after routine surgery.” And yet, when respondents were asked in the survey whether their pain was adequately controlled after surgery or after treatment in a hospital, nearly 64% said no and 34% said yes.

“There is research demonstrating that the intensity of acute postoperative pain correlates with the risk of going on to develop chronic pain. This suggests that aggressive early therapy for postoperative pain is critical for preventing the pain from turning chronic,” Cindy Steinberg, National Director of Policy and Advocacy for the U.S. Pain Foundation, told Pain News Network.

Asked if they felt that hospital staff members were adequately train in pain management, nearly 83% of the respondents said no and only 9% said yes. This opinion is supported by a 2012 study published in the Journal of Pain, which called pain education “lackluster” in the U.S. The study of 117 medical schools found that fewer than 4% required a course in pain education and that many did not have any pain courses.

Source: Pain News Network; March 28, 2016.