WESTMINSTER - Specially qualifying patients at Carroll County General Hospital will be able to control the amount of their pain medication themselves using a new Patient Controlled Analgesia pump device now available.
Instead of requesting a pain shot from the nurse, patients whose physician recommends PCA are able to give themselves pain medication as they feel the need.
Dr. Glenn Feroli, assistant director of pharmacy and clinical pharmacist, said the concept of PCA is based on the recognition that each individual "feels" pain differently; hence, the amount of analgesia necessary to help patients cope with pain varies.
"The patient may use a smaller dose if allowed to regulate according to his or her individual need," he said. "The PCA pump has safeguards to prevent an overdose amount of a drug."
The PCA pump is actually a small computer placed in a pouch worn around the patient's neck or waist or placed on the bed or side rail. It does not interfere with movement in bed, sitting in a chair or walking. Connected to the patient by intravenous fluid tubing, the PCA pump is preset to deliver the right dose of medication ordered by the physician.
The pain medication is given in the following ways:
* A small dose, continuously.
* If the patient feels the need for additional medication to relieve pain, the patient can press a dose button and an additional prescribed dose of medication is given.
* The physician may prescribe for the patient to be able to administer a dose of the medication when the patient feels he or she needs it, without receiving the medication continuously.
"A patient may find he needs two or three doses in a short time and at other times not require extra doses for quite a while," Feroli said. "This program is designed to meet individual needs."
Patients are asked to rate their pain and sedation levels according to special scales to help physicians and nurses evaluate the effectiveness of the PCA for each individual.
Patients may request PCA, but only their physician can determine if they are good candidates for the program.