Pain Management May Be Best Option for Critically Ill

Treatment should focus on communication and misconceptions about palliative therapies
By A. Agrawal, PhD
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, May 20 (HealthDay News) -- Pain management and end-of-life care may be the most beneficial treatment for patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) and should focus on communicating with the patient and family and clearing up misconceptions about the use of palliative treatments, according to a review in the May issue of Chest.

Richard A. Mularski, M.D., from the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, and colleagues reviewed the state of pain management for palliative and end-of-life care for patients in the ICU, who, they note, receive aggressive interventions that can result in suffering and death.

They researchers discovered that a shift to comfort-oriented care may be the most beneficial treatment for these patients. Communication and cultural sensitivity with the patient and family are key for optimizing pain management, as well as overcoming misconceptions about the escalation of opiates and other palliative therapies. Palliative care should also address family and caregiver stress, the authors write.

"In summary, ICU care should strive to provide optimal pain management and palliative care in the ICU environment," Mularski and colleagues conclude. "Such care should attend to multiple sources of patient pain and suffering and target communication among patients, families, and ICU professionals that promote patient comfort."

Several study co-authors reported financial ties to pharmaceutical and medical companies.

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