Background: The American Pain Society (APS) set out to revise and expand its 1995 Quality Improvement Guidelines for the Treatment of Acute Pain and Cancer Pain and to facilitate improvements in the quality of pain management in all care settings.
Methods: Eleven multidisciplinary members of the APS with expertise in quality improvement or measurement participated in the update. Five experts from organizations that focus on health care quality reviewed the final recommendations. MEDLINE and Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature databases were searched (1994-2004) to identify articles on pain quality measurement and quality improvement published after the development of the 1995 guidelines. The APS task force revised and expanded recommendations on the basis of the systematic review of published studies. The more than 3000 members of the APS were invited to provide input, and the 5 experts provided additional comments. The task force synthesized reviewers' comments into the final set of recommendations.
Results: The recommendations specify that all care settings formulate structured, multilevel systems approaches (sensitive to the type of pain, population served, and setting of care) that ensure prompt recognition and treatment of pain, involvement of patients and families in the pain management plan, improved treatment patterns, regular reassessment and adjustment of the pain management plan as needed, and measurement of processes and outcomes of pain management.
Conclusion: Efforts to improve the quality of pain management must move beyond assessment and communication of pain to implementation and evaluation of improvements in pain treatment that are timely, safe, evidence based, and multimodal.