Patient controlled analgesia puts pain under patients’ control, may shift liability

by • May 1, 2008 • UncategorizedComments Off on Patient controlled analgesia puts pain under patients’ control, may shift liability1267

• The Gist: In PCA cases, look for device malfunction or operator error. The latter is more often associated with serious adverse outcomes.

By Margaret Wacker, RN, PhD, CLNC
for The Medical-Legal News

Patient controlled analgesia (PCA) has become the standard of care for the treatment of postoperative pain.

This modality of opioid administration offers many advantages: 1) patients are able to administer their own analgesia and adjust the dose to achieve desired pain relief; 2) intermittent dosing by nursing staff is eliminated; and 3) PCA maintains a relatively constant plasma level of the drug. PCA can be administered by intravenous, subcutaneous or epidural routes.

Safe PCA use demands proper patient selection, education, assessment and monitoring. A number of factors need to be considered when ascertaining if a patient is an appropriate candidate for PCA.

Of primary importance is the capability of the patient…

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