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New Ways to Talk About Effective Veterinary Pain Management

By Vet-Advantage
November, 2015

When the 2015 AAHA/AAFP Pain Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats were released earlier this year, practices were given a terrific new tool to manage pain in their patients. The new guidelines expand on the information contained in the 2007 version in several ways to enlighten practices on the many advancements in animal pain knowledge and treatment.Vet Advantage photo: Help make sure your customers have the latest veterinary pain management tools and protocols

For example, the 2015 guidelines discuss these critical topics:

  • The importance of an integrated approach to managing pain,
  • The various clinically validated instruments for scoring pain in both dogs and cats, and
  • Numerous studies published within the past three years, reflecting the rapid pace of advances in managing pain for companion animals.

Now, you may be asking yourself, "Why is pain management such an important topic for me to discuss with practices today?"

Essentially, pain management is central to veterinary practice, and you can help make sure your customers have the latest tools and protocols in place.

A commitment to pain management identifies a practice as one that's committed to compassionate care and optimum recovery from illness, injury, or surgery. Alleviating pain improves patient outcomes and enhances both quality of life and the veterinarian-client-patient relationship.

5 Tips to help you open the door to a pain management discussion with every practice in your territory

When you begin this conversation, you'll be assisting practices in getting up to speed, providing exceptional service and ensuring the comfort of patients in their care.

  1. Ask veterinarians if they currently follow a multimodal and integrated approach to pain management. The new AAHA-AAFP guidelines discuss how appropriate pain management requires a continuum of care based on a well-thought-out plan that includes anticipation, early intervention, and evaluation of response on an individual patient basis. The plan should include both pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic modalities (evidence-based or otherwise representing a consensus of expert opinion, which the AAHA-AAFP Guidelines include).
  1. Ask about the practice's current standards for specific ailments or conditions. For instance, open the discussion as to their standard approaches to managing pain relating to osteoarthritis, orthopedic and soft tissue surgery.
  1. Present the new Pain Management Guidelines. Ask practices if they've seen the AAHA-AAFP Guidelines, especially its summary and its discriminating review of the latest in pain management research in companion animals. Better yet — find out if they have started implementing the new Guidelines.
  1. Encourage practices to review the AAHA-AAFP Implementation Toolkit. This is an extensive, extremely valuable how-to roadmap practices can use to advance the pain management protocols within their team. It includes these highly useful tools for everyone on the clinic staff:
  • Nine Ways to Minimize the Risks of NSAIDs
  • Summary of Appropriate Interventions
  • Staff Roles and Responsibilities
  • Pain Management Algorithm
  • Definitions
  • Client Handouts & Resources
  • Model Protocol
  • Infographic: Frequently Overlooked Causes of Pain
  1. Beyond these tools, make sure you're presenting resources provided by the pain management product manufacturers you represent. Many of them offer consumer brochures, in-clinic educational materials, websites, staff education, case studies and more. And, they may be offering special promotions or trials of the latest pain management products.

You may be thinking that most practices already know about these guidelines… but we can't assume that. Practices are so busy with their day-to-day tasks; they may not have had time to absorb all the new information. You may be surprised to find that many of your customers appreciate the walk-through you can provide, especially regarding new pain management products.

Editor’s Note: We'd like to thank Dr. Steve Maschmedt and Jessica Bayer from Merial for their valuable input on this post

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