Patients have the right to effective pain care, says Compassion in Dying, the national non-profit consumer organization that advocates pain management for patients who are facing a life-threatening disease or illness. The following check list is designed to help you or a loved one best manage the pain.

  • Be assertive. Tell your doctor you will not tolerate under-treated pain.
  • If you have chronic pain, don't wait until it's severe to treat it. Pain is easier to prevent than to treat.
  • Talk with your doctor about your concerns for good pain care.
  • Ask what medications will be available if you begin to have pain.
  • If you are on hospice, tell the nurse your pain level at every visit.
  • Demand comfort care in your Advance Directive. Be clear and assertive.
  • Direct a friend or family member to be your advocate if necessary. Keep your advocate informed about your pain.
  • Keep a pain record. Note location of pain, time of day, severity, and when the pain subsided. Share this with your doctor or nurse.
  • Get the name and phone numbers of the doctor who covers for your physician when he/she is unavailable.
  • Ask about your orders for pain medication. See that they cover frequency, dosage and type of medication. If you have questions, ask them!
  • Insist that you have enough pain medication for the weekend or holidays.
  • If you are in a hospital and your pain goes untreated, ask to speak to the medical director or nursing supervisor.
  • Expect the amount of medication needed for end-of-life pain to increase rapidly.

If you have questions about pain care or symptom management, please contact Compassion in Dying at 503-221-9556 or www.compassionindying.org.