There has been considerable investment in efforts to improve postoperative pain management, including the introduction of acute pain teams. There have also been a number of guidelines published on postoperative pain management and there is widespread agreement on how pain should be practically managed. Despite these advances, there is no apparent improvement in the number of patients experiencing moderately severe or extreme pain after surgery. This highlights significant scope for improvement in acute postoperative pain management.
In January 2009, a multidisciplinary UK expert panel met to define and agree a practical framework to encourage implementation of the numerous guidelines and fundamentals of pain management at a local level. The panel recognised that to do this, there was a need to organise the information and guidelines into a simplified, accessible and easy-to-implement system based on their practical clinical experience.
Given the volume of literature in this area, the Chair recommended that key international guidelines from professional bodies should be distributed and then reviewed during the meeting to form the basis of the framework. Consensus was reached by unanimous agreement of all ten participants.
This report provides a framework for the key themes, including consensus recommendations based upon practical experience agreed during the meeting, with the aim of consolidating the key guidelines to provide a fundamental framework which is simple to teach and implement in all areas. Key priorities that emerged were: Responsibility, Anticipation, Discussion, Assessment and Response. This formed the basis of RADAR, a novel framework to help pain specialists educate the wider care team on understanding and prioritising the management of acute pain.
Acute postoperative pain can be more effectively managed if it is prioritised and anticipated by a well-informed care team who are educated with regard to appropriate analgesic options and understand what the long-term benefits of pain relief are. The principles of RADAR provide structure to help with training and implementation of good practice, to achieve effective postoperative pain management.