What is Patient Controlled Analgesia (PCA)? The PCA system allows a patient to administer pain medication by pressing a button connected to an intravenous (IV) pump. Each time the button is depressed, the pump will deliver a specific amount of pain medicine. The physician determines the amount of medicine you will receive based upon your size, age and diagnosis. Patients can receive small doses of medicine more frequently and quickly using this method. The pump has safety features that prevent a patient from getting too much medicine too frequently.
Guidlines for Use
Pain is commonly experienced by most patients after surgery. The degree of pain a person experiences may vary greatly from very little to quite a lot. However, with the help of the PCA, we would like to keep your level of pain to a minimum. You should press the PCA button before your pain becomes severe or as it first begins to escalate. Occasionally, your nurse may have to turn your PCA pump off after you have received a pain medication pill or injection.
Monitoring Your Pain
You are the only one who knows how your pain feels. To help your doctors and nurses understand your pain, they will ask you to rate your pain using a 0-10 scale. Zero represents no pain and 10 is the worst amount of pain possible. You will be asked regularly about your pain using this scale. Always tell your nurse or doctor about any pain that is new, changed, or does not improve with pain medication.
The most common side effects that may occur with patients receiving PCA pain medications include:
- Sleepiness/feeling drowsy
- Difficult urination
Let your nurse or doctor know whether you experience any of the side effects listed above. Your doctors and nurses will also monitor you regularly for side effects from the pain medications.
Although pain medication often makes you sleepy, it is important that you stay awake enough to participate in activities that are an important part of your recovery, such as walking, deep breathing and the completion of some self-care. Therefore you may need to balance your pain control and sleepiness.
Please remember that your comfort is important to us. Your input is very helpful. Please don't hesitate to ask questions of your nurse or physician.
- You are the only person who should push the PCA button. Your family, friends or hospital employees are not allowed to press the PCA button.
- Do not attempt to eat or drink if you feel very sleepy or drowsy. Do not allow visitors to feed you while you are feeling sleepy or drowsy. Wait until you are more awake.
- If you feel dizzy or weak, call the nurse for assistance before attempting to walk or get out of bed.