Managing Pain in Postoperative Patients: What the Hospitalist Needs to Know

Pain is probably the most common presenting or associated symptom in patients in the hospital, and patients are often more concerned about being in pain than they are about the primary reason for admission. Pain is a completely subjective experience that is the consequence of the filtering, modulating, and distorting of the afferent nerve activity (ie, nociceptive input) through the affective (ie, limbic system) and cognitive processes unique to each individual. The following educational module discusses why postoperative pain requires treatment, outlines methods for performing a proper assessment of pain, provides strategies for utilizing patient-controlled analgesia safely and effectively, and summarizes the use of opioid and non-opioid analgesics in the postoperative setting to help hospitalists improve patients’ quality of recovery and life.
Provide hospitalists with current information and guidelines for the treatment of postoperative pain.
This activity is designed for hospitalists.
After participating in this activity, the participant will demonstrate the ability to:
1. Define what pain is and recognize why postoperative pain requires treatment. 
2. Perform a proper assessment of pain in the postoperative patient.
3. Utilize patient-controlled analgesia safely and effectively in the postoperative setting.
4. Summarize how to use non-opioid analgesic agents in the postoperative period.
5. Describe appropriate use of opioids in the postoperative period. 
This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and Policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education through the joint sponsorship of University of Virginia School of Medicine, ASiM, and the Society of Hospital Medicine. The University of Virginia School of Medicine is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
Credit Designation Statement:
The University of Virginia School of Medicine designates this enduring material for a maximum of 2.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.
Release date: October 30, 2015.                               Expiration date: October 30, 2018. 
Estimated time to complete activity: 2 hours
Kurt Pfeifer, MD, FACP (Course Director)
Associate Professor of Medicine
General Internal Medicine
Associate Program Director
Internal Medicine Residency
Medical College of Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Dr Pfeifer reports having no significant financial or advisory relationships with corporate organizations related to this activity.
Darin J. Correll, MD
Director, Postoperative Pain Management Service
Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative, and Pain Medicine
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Assistant Professor of Anaesthesia, Harvard Medical School
Boston, Massachusetts
Dr Correll reports having no significant financial or advisory relationships with corporate organizations related to this activity.
Bartho Caponi, MD (Peer Reviewer)
Clinical Assistant Professor
Division of Hospital Medicine
University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics
Madison, Wisconsin
Dr Caponi reports having no significant financial or advisory relationships with corporate organizations related to this activity.
Disclosure of Discussion of Non-FDA–Approved Uses for Pharmaceutical Products and/or Medical Devices
The University of Virginia School of Medicine, as an ACCME provider, requires that all faculty presenters identify and disclose any off-label uses for pharmaceutical and medical device products. The University of Virginia School of Medicine recommends that each physician fully review all the available data on new products or procedures prior to clinical use.
Off-Label Product Discussion:
All faculty have indicated that they have not referenced unlabeled or unapproved uses of drugs or devices.

In accordance with the ACCME Standards for Commercial Support, SHM requires that individuals in a position to control the content of an educational activity disclose all relevant financial relationships with any commercial interest. SHM resolves all conflicts of interest to ensure independence, objectivity, balance, and scientific rigor in all its educational programs. All relevant financial relationships shall be disclosed to participants prior to the start of the activity.

Furthermore, SHM seeks to verify that all scientific research referred to, reported, or used in a continuing medical education (CME) activity conforms to the generally accepted standards of experimental design, data collection, and analysis. SHM is committed to providing its learners with high-quality CME activities that promote improvements in healthcare and not those of a commercial interest.

The opinions and recommendations expressed by faculty and other experts whose input is included in this program are their own. This enduring material is produced for educational purposes only. Use of the University of Virginia School of Medicine name implies review of educational format design and approach. Please review the complete prescribing information of specific drugs or combination of drugs, including indications, contraindications, warnings and adverse effects before administering pharmacologic therapy to patients.
The following is an interactive educational module designed to help you gauge your basic knowledge of the topic and then direct you to areas you may need to focus on. It consists of 3 sections: an unaccredited pre-test, a study program, and a CME post-test. All 3 sections must be completed to receive CME credit.
Click here to download the references for this educational activity.
Supported by an educational grant from Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals.
Course summary
Available credit: 
  • 2.00 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™
  • 2.00 Non-physician
Course opens: 
Course expires: 
Your cost:
Parent activity set: 

Available Credit

  • 2.00 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™
  • 2.00 Non-physician

Accreditation Period

Course opens: 
Course expires: 


Your cost:
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