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Joint Commission Urges Patients to 'Speak Up' About Pain

Education campaign coincides with Pain Awareness Month

OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill., Sept. 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pain is just a part of life, right? Maybe not. Pain is actually one of the main reasons that Americans seek medical treatment, and untreated pain can have serious effects -- slowed recovery times, poor quality of life and higher health care costs.

The Joint Commission is launching a national campaign to help Americans work with their health care professionals to better manage pain. The new education campaign is part of The Joint Commission's award-winning Speak Up(TM) program that helps patients become more informed and involved in their health care, and coincides with Pain Awareness Month in September.

"Effective pain management is a crucial component of good health care, and treating pain is the responsibility of all caregivers," says Mark R. Chassin, M.D., M.P.P., M.P.H., president, The Joint Commission. "The Joint Commission encourages patients to ask the right questions so that they can find relief."

Beginning in 2000, The Joint Commission has made pain assessment and management a priority in its national standards and accreditation process. The new campaign includes a brochure entitled "What You Should Know about Pain Management," which identifies questions and answers that will help patients find out more about pain treatments that can be used for pain caused by injury, illness, or surgery. Among the topics are: talking about and describing pain, understanding pain treatments, managing pain, and questions to ask caregivers. The brochure encourages patients to ask their caregivers specific questions about pain medication, including doses and times that medication should be taken, side effects, how long the medication will take to work, and what to do if the medication does not work.

The framework of the Speak Up(TM) program urges patients to:

Speak up if you have questions or concerns, and if you don't understand, ask again. It's your body and you have a right to know.

Pay attention to the care you are receiving. Make sure you're getting the right treatments by the right health care professionals. Don't assume anything.

Educate yourself about your diagnosis, the medical tests you are undergoing, and your treatment plan.

Ask a trusted family member or friend to be your advocate.

Know what medications you take and why you take them. Medication errors are the most common health care errors.

Use a hospital, clinic, surgery center, or other type of health care organization that has undergone a rigorous on-site evaluation against established state-of-the-art quality and safety standards, such as that provided by The Joint Commission.

Participate in all decisions about your treatment. You are the center of the health care team.

Speak Up(TM) brochures also are available on understanding caregivers, understanding medical tests, recovering after leaving the hospital, preventing medication mistakes, preventing infections, preparing to become a living organ donor, avoiding wrong site surgery and preventing errors in care. Brochures can be found at All of the Speak Up(TM) brochures are available in an easy-to-read format and in Spanish.

Founded in 1951, The Joint Commission seeks to continuously improve the safety and quality of care provided to the public through the provision of health care accreditation and related services that support performance improvement in health care organizations. The Joint Commission evaluates and accredits more than 15,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States, including more than 8,000 hospitals and home care organizations, and more than 6,200 other health care organizations that provide long term care, assisted living, behavioral health care, laboratory and ambulatory care services. The Joint Commission also accredits health plans, integrated delivery networks, and other managed care entities. In addition, The Joint Commission provides certification of disease-specific care programs, primary stroke centers, and health care staffing services. An independent, not-for-profit organization, The Joint Commission is the nation's oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care. Learn more about The Joint Commission at

SOURCE The Joint Commission
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