Influences on Administrating Pain Medication

The concerns about addiction and the potential for adverse side effects of opioid analgesics influence how the medication is administered. Patients may avoid or postpone taking pain medication until the pain is unbearable for fear of becoming addicted or developing a tolerance for the medication. This is especially true with patients who suffer chronic debilitating diseases. They realize pain increases as the disease progresses and they are fearful that the medication will lose its effectiveness.

Some healthcare providers are also hesitant about administering pain medication for some of the same reasons patients refuse to take the drug. Furthermore, healthcare providers might be skeptical that the patient is actually in pain since pain is subjective and difficult to measure in the clinical setting.

Many studies have demonstrated that women, the elderly, children, and those addicted to illegal drugs are at greater risk for being undertreated for acute pain. These studies indicate that some healthcare providers believe females react emotionally and pain is not as severe as reported. Others believe the elderly and children do not feel pain as acutely as other patients. And many healthcare providers believe addicts are simply seeking drugs to forego withdrawal symptoms even when it is clear that the addict is suffering pain from an acute injury or illness.

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