Pain is neither objective nor seen or felt by anybody other than the person that is experiencing it. Pain is subjective, therefore there is no way to distinguish whether or not someone is hurting and the only and best measurement of pain is that what the patient says it is. In settings such as end of life care, patients present with many different disease processes and ultimately are there because they have an average of six months to live. Along with this stage in their lives, palliative care patients can encounter a myriad of symptoms, which can result in these patients experiencing tremendous physical and psychological suffering (Creedon & O’Regan, 2010, p. [ 257]). For patients requiring palliative care, pain is the most incapacitating of symptoms and in return unrelieved pain is the primary symptom that is feared most by these patients. So why has pain management not become the top priority when it comes to end of life care, considering this area is growing at an extraordinary rate as a result of an increasingly ageing population?
Management of pain is very important when it comes to palliative care patients, considering that 55-95% of this patient population requires analgesia for pain relief (Creedon & O’Regan, 2010, p. [ 257]). But what is considered pain management? And why does pain continue to be inadequately treated? According to the article on chronic non-cancer pain in older people: evidence for prescribing, in the past few decades significant improvements have been made to the management of pain in palliative care. However, it is universally acknowledged that pain on a global scale remains inadequately treated because of cultural, attitudinal, educational, legal, and systemic reasons (Creedon & O’Regan, 2010, p. [ 260]). Studies have estimated that as many as 25% of all cancer patients in end of life care die with unrelieved pain because of patient, provider and family misconceptions and fears due to lack of knowledge of adequate pain treatment, fear of prescribing opioids, and patient related barriers towards the use of opioids.
Pain occurs in up to 75% of patients with advanced cancer, and 65% of patients dying from other causes (Creedon & O’Regan, 2010, p. [ 260]). With the wide range of analgesics available, there is no pharmacological reason why patients should continue to experience or endure pain (Creedon & O’Regan, 2010, p. [ 260]). With the palliative care field growing at such high rate, a pain management approach has been implemented in many organizations to decrease pain and anxiety in patients with chronic debilitating diseases. This approach is based on the fact that a patient should not hurt at all therefore, regular medication is given before the pain begins. Likewise, it aims to erase the memory of the pain that has been experienced and also deals with the fear of pain in the future which in turn relieves anxiety and an increase perception of pain due to anxiety (Leming & Dickinson, 2011, p....