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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.
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