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Community pharmacy can create an improved pain management service by structuring the way we identify and engage with people who have chronic pain.
There are some important questions to ask:
Patients who have chronic pain – defined as a pain lasting more than three months – are in need of an enhanced solution. The simplest way to identify them is to ask them, but they can also be identified through their patient medication record when you see that analgesia has been repeated over the past three months.
Patients can be engaged through a brief conversation in the pharmacy, but they will usually need some time for assessment and to explore appropriate solutions. They could be invited to a medicines use review (MUR), particularly if they say their current treatment is inadequate.
Offering a leaflet that describes the service offered and encouraging the patient to book an appointment might be useful.
Pharmacists should also know when to refer. Obviously, if after assessment, you feel that there might be a serious unknown pathology behind the pain, you should urge the patient immediately to seek an expert opinion. Also consider this if the patient: