HMC holds first pain management symposium in Qatar

March 26, 2014 10:03 am

Around 380 participants composed of anesthesia staff, nurses and allied health professionals attended the first Pain Management Symposium held by Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) and Specialists in Pain International Network (SPIN) to discuss key topics and therapies in the management of patients with acute, chronic or cancer pain.

“The two-day symposium focused on foundational aspects of pain management and involved a series of lectures and workshops conducted by an international faculty of recognized experts in the field,” said Mr. Atef Al Tawafsheh, Advanced Clinical Nurse Specialist in Pain Management at HMC, symposium coordinator and a member of SPIN. “We are planning to hold the symposium yearly, with different themes focusing on more specific areas in pain management.”

Pain management involves a team of healthcare providers working directly with the patient to ease their discomfort and improve the quality of life of those living with pain – such as cancer patients and those recovering from major surgery – using a holistic approach.

“In the past, the predominant practice among surgeons and physicians was for the patients to manage their pain themselves. What we need now is the acceptance that when pain persists beyond a realistic time period after surgery or after a disease has started, then the pain needs to be treated by itself specifically, but also together with all the other aspects of that particular disease and that patient,” said Dr. Nicholas Scott, Deputy Chairman of Anesthesia at HMC and chairman of the Pain Management Symposium.

“Evidence from many studies over the last 50-60 years show that if patients are treated with a positive attitude and with a view to reducing pain by their healthcare team, they will recover better after surgery than if their healthcare team are not educated about pain management and have a negative attitude towards pain and the disease,” said Dr. Scott.

Having a pain management service is important in reducing a patient’s length of stay in the hospital, explained Dr. Scott. “Instead of having widespread different practices among doctors, specialties, wards and departments, centralized pain management leads to better audit, better research, and better outcomes, and also involves interaction with the surgeons to promote enhanced recovery and quicker discharge of the patient. Without a central acute pain service to do that, any attempts at reducing the patient’s length of stay do not work. Equally, if you only concentrate on pain and the surgeons have discharge policies that are independent of pain management, then you end up with prolonged lengths of stay.”

The Pain Management Service at HMC was established three years ago. Currently, each team working with the patient is led by a consultant and includes a clinical nurse specialist, a physiotherapist and a pharmacist. “We are in the process of developing a unique model for the pain management service that is adapted to the culture and practice in Qatar,” said Mr. Al Tawafsheh, pointing out that having a structured pain management service enhances communication among everyone involved in the care of the patient.

“SPIN is a UK charity that consists of a group of doctors, nurses, psychologists and physiotherapists who all work in the area of pain management. We have taken on projects in other parts of the world such as Africa and Ukraine, and now we hope to work more in the Middle East and to share our knowledge and experience with other healthcare professionals to improve the management of patients in pain. We hope to come again to Qatar to do more specific, focused workshops on various aspects of pain management,” said Professor Lesley Bromley, Secretary of SPIN.

SPIN members have a strong academic record, holding many research grants and with hundreds of peer-reviewed publications in the field of pain. The organization aims to engage in a dialogue across cultures with other pain specialists and promote good standards of pain management for patients’ benefit; to educate and train through interactive discourse and lectures in both the clinical management and the basic science of pain; and to encourage and share the results of research.