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Postoperative Pain is an Under Appreciated, Under Treated Problem in the United States

e federal budget for research on pain management.

Although the National Institutes of Health created a Pain Consortium

to identify research opportunities at its 18 Institutes and Centers

and funds research on pain as it applies to specific disease states,

only one percent of the total NIH budget -- or $170 million -- is

actually going into specific pain research. The report calls for

doubling the NIH budget to $340 million for basic and clinical

research on acute and persistent pain management.

5. Increase the visibility of pain research both within the NIH research

community and with pain advocacy organizations and patient groups.

With the goal of developing interventions to prevent and manage pain,

the report calls for increased attention to the pain experience as a

focus of NIH research and for wide dissemination of new research

findings to the professional community.

6. Create the means to share information about best practices in

postoperative pain management.

In response to the 1999 Institute of Medicine report on medical

errors, the health care community has put in place new practice

guidelines and educational efforts, many of which address

postoperative pain management. Now, the critical next step is for the

federal government -- through the National Institutes of Health or the

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality -- to begin collecting data

on best practices in the assessment, administration of analgesics, and

documentation of pain management practices so that this information

can be quantified and shared across specialties and health care


7. Eliminate the barriers to more effective postoperative pain management

for the medically underserved.

Because a number of studies hav

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