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Pain Management Contracts

Why Are They Used?

Pain contracts are used to protect the health and safety of the person who requires pain medication. They also make clear the expectations of the healthcare provider, and they provide guidelines to determine if changes are needed to make sure the best treatment is used to relieve pain.
Pain contracts can:
  • Help improve the communication among those involved in an individual's pain management
  • Encourage each person to understand and feel part of a partnership with his or her healthcare provider
  • Help in monitoring pain control and medication use.

Controversies With Pain Medication Contracts

Some people think that pain contracts should not be used because they may change the relationship between the healthcare provider and the individual into one that appears less friendly and open. A pain contract can make it seem like the healthcare provider doesn't trust you or automatically assumes you will misuse pain medications. Healthcare providers may feel that misuse of pain medication occurs often enough that having everyone sign a pain contract will decrease this problem.
Pain contracts sometimes state that if you break the terms of the contract (for instance, if you take more pain medication than prescribed, miss appointments, or get a prescription for a pain medication from another provider without informing them), your healthcare provider can refuse to continue to treat you for your pain. This can seem harsh and unfair to people who are trying to find the right medication that works for them.
Healthcare providers sometimes feel that the opposite is true, and that when information about the pain medications and expectations about their use are spelled out from the beginning in a pain contract, it prevents future misunderstandings. It is not always possible to know which person may misuse their medications in the future, so having all clients sign pain contracts ensures that everyone has the same information and is treated in the same manner.
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