Background: The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations standards for pain management for hospitals took effect on January 1, 2001. A study was conductedto determine whether, and to what degree, patients' ratings of their satisfaction with pain control had changed during the four years after implementation of the Joint Commission standards compared with a baseline period of 2(1/2) years earlier. Patient satisfaction with pain control is a valid measure of a hospital's efforts to assess pain management and implementation of Joint Commission standards, insofar as it reflects the subjective nature of the pain experience.
Methods: Survey data representing identical hospitals for 26 quarters (2(1/2) years before and 4 years after January 1, 2001) were analyzed. More than 3,000,000 surveys, from 240 hospitals across the United States, were included in the analysis.
Results: The average score for all patients treated before the new standards were put into place was 85.2 (sigma = 19.7), while the average for those treated after that date was 85.7 (sigma = 19.6). Although small in absolute size, the difference is statistically significant at the .001 level.
Discussion: Although satisfaction with pain control varied within a relatively narrow range in the 10 quarters before the institution of the Joint Commission standards, it has subsequently shown an overall upward trend, as well as a cyclical pattern. Such evidence for even a modest increase might encourage caregivers to continue their efforts to monitor their patients' pain and to help patients control it.