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Patient guide to managing pain and opioid medicines

Choosing Wisely Australia an Initiative of NPS MedicineWise have identified that every day in Australia 3 people die and 150 people are hospitalised as a result of harm from pharmaceutical opioids.

That is an amazing statistic and the reason that NPS has created an education program around opioid use called Managing Pain and opioid medicines.

The resource, Managing pain and opioid medicineswas developed in consultation with the Queensland Clinical Senate and Society of Hospital Pharmacists and tested in the surgical wards and emergency departments of four hospitals in Victoria and Queensland, by hospital staff and inpatients. It has three key elements to support people who are prescribed opioids:

  • Five questions people are encouraged to ask their health professional before leaving hospital with opioids. This has been modelled on Choosing Wisely Australia’s 5 questions to ask your doctor resource to guide better conversations with health professionals about tests, treatments and procedures.
  • Tips for taking and storing opioids at home.
  • A personal pain management plan that should be developed in conjunction with a health professional.

The aim is that when you are providing education to your patients about their medication use you can download the resource and give it to them to take home. Then when they are followed up post-hospital discharge by their GP they have a document to start the conversation with their doctor about pain.

You do need to note that this resource has not been created to be used in the palliative setting with clients who have a life-limiting illness.

If you would like to read more widely on the topic then NPS has a great article called Opioids, Chronic Pain, and the Bigger Picture that you might be interested in.

Nurses play a key role in pain management – the advice and education we provide our patients should reflect current best practice guidelines.