2018 June - Current standards in pain relief


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Veterinarians are expected to assess for and alleviate animal pain where necessary and in accordance with current standards. 

medium_ImgCarousel_2.jpgThe Board published a Boardtalk Insert in December 2013 (Resources, Boardtalk Inserts) from Dr Sanaa Zaki at The University of Sydney on Pain Assessment and Management in Companion Animals.  As noted by Dr Zaki, when deciding on what drugs and techniques are most appropriate to treat pain in our patients, it is important to note that no single drug or class of drugs will manage pain effectively in all cases. The provision of appropriate pain relief frequently requires a multimodal approach.

Over the last 6 years the Board’s Hospital Inspector has inspected every veterinary hospital in NSW and most unlicensed premises.  The vast majority of licensed premises and house call or on-site veterinary practices in NSW have access to a variety of options for pain relief, including access to opioids.

Although the use of opioids and S8’s in practice bring with them a greater burden (or level) of vigilance and record-keeping (S8 register etc.), this is no excuse to not be using this modality in practice.

Stocking a range of analgesics with different modes of action ensures you are able to provide your patients with pain relief in accordance with current standards. 

The Board does not dictate what drugs are used for particular procedures or for different categories of pain assessment such as mild, moderate or severe.  However, if you are not or may not be able to provide pain relief in accordance with current standards for your patient due to skills, knowledge, experience, or simply due to lack of availability of analgesic agents, you must offer referral to another veterinarian just as you would for other treatment options in your practice.

If a complaint is received by the Board the veterinarian may be required to explain how their approach to pain assessment and management was considered to be in accordance with current standards of veterinary practice.