Team member roles identified in new 2015 AAHA/AAFP Pain Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats

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Pain management responsibilities for veterinarians

> Assess pain in every patient regardless of appointment type (e.g., wellness, sick, follow up)

> Develop standard operating procedures for the practice to prevent pain, including the following:

   • Weight optimization and prevention of dental disease

   • Handling and hospitalization to prevent fear and pain

   • PLATTER (see Figure 1 in the guidelines here) to follow up and modify plan

> Provide staff education on:

   • Effective client communication and education

   • Preventive pain strategies

   • Recognition and assessment of pain

   • Drug interactions and adverse effects

Pain management responsibilities for veterinary technicians

> Obtain medication history

> Anticipate painful procedures

> Recognize signs of pain and alert veterinarian

> Treat as directed by a veterinarian and update records

> Assess postoperative patients and record pain score

> Assess chronic-pain patients and record pain score

> Maintain effective client communication and education

Pain management responsibilities for patient-care personnel

> Prior to veterinary examination:

   • Note any possible causes of pain

   • Note any behavioral changes

> During the examination:

   • Proper handling

   • Other stress/anxiety-relieving techniques

> Following the examination:

   • Monitor patient's behavior

   • Contact client about questions or concerns

   • Set follow-up appointment

> Housing should be stress/anxiety-relieving

The guidelines also point to the importance of having a patient advocate for each hospitalized animal to enable accurate and individualized evaluation of the patient and ensure successful treatment. 

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