Support, Not Judgment

IU Health Paoli’s Cheryl Lee recognized for development of safe pain management program

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the amount of opioids prescribed per person was three times higher in 2015 than in 1999. Higher opioid prescription puts patients at risk for addiction and overdose. The impact of this is seen every day in emergency departments (EDs) all over the nation as patients return to the ED repeatedly complaining of pain. Many times the patients truly are in pain—but many times they are not.

In 2014, Cheryl Lee, RN, pain resource nurse at Indiana University Health Paoli Hospital, decided to tackle the problem head-on by leading the development of a safe pain management program in the ED. Her efforts resulted in dramatic improvement, with ED visits by patients frequently requesting pain medications decreasing by 59.8 percent in 2015 and 67.9 percent in 2016. In recognition of her accomplishments, the Indiana Hospital Association’s Indiana Patient Safety Center awarded Lee with the 2017 Patient Safety Service & Leadership  Award, which recognizes exemplary dedication to quality and patient safety.

As the leader of the pain management team, Lee compiles information from reports from nursing staff and providers to form a list of at-risk patients. She reviews their charts and Indiana Scheduled Prescription Electronic Collection and Tracking (INSPECT) reports and makes recommendations for care plans that are discussed at regular meetings. She sends these patients a certified letter as recommended by the Pain Management Committee and contacts them to help navigate through options for safe treatment. She also provides hospital-wide education for staff and providers to ensure adherence to the opioid prescribing policy.

“Thanks to Cheryl’s efforts, providers and nursing staff are better educated and supported to be able to provide safe care to patients without contributing to overuse of narcotic pain medications,” said Charlene Clark, RN, emergency department manager at IU Health Paoli. “She sets an example of delivering nonjudgmental care to patients with chronic pain or drug-seeking characteristics.”