Penny Tuffin is an Advanced Practice Pharmacist (Palliative Care and Pain Management). Her expertise in pain management encompasses acute and chronic pain and pain in adults with a terminal diagnosis. She divides her clinical time between pain and palliative care teams in the public and private sector including two tertiary hospitals, a palliative care unit, and residential aged and ambulatory care in the Perth metropolitan area. She is also employed at the WA Health Department’s Cancer and Palliative Care Network developing policy and care framework for palliative care provision in WA. Penny provides education and mentoring for healthcare professionals and undergraduate students throughout Western Australia.
Pain is a common human experience. Access to pain management is a fundamental human right.
Despite advances in the understanding and management of pain, reports of inadequate pain relief still persist across all sectors of healthcare within Australia as well as the rest of the world. As health professionals we have a responsibility to provide best practice, evidence-based assessment and treatment of pain. Best practice requires an educated, responsive and effective interdisciplinary team.
Within the barrage of continually expanding information about pathophysiology and neurochemistry, making treatment option (non-pharmacological and pharmacological) choices, considering hospital guidelines, state and federal legislation and concerns about misuse of medications, it is easy to forget that there is a person in pain who requires our expertise: a person who is having an individual experience of pain; a person who has a unique physical and psychological response to the painful stimuli or injury; a person with a specific way of communicating their pain, with their own previous experiences of pain, particular beliefs about their pain and their own expectations of how to manage this pain and what the various treatments will offer. It can also be expected, that their response to the chosen treatment options will be particular to them.
Treatment of pain must be individualised and comprehensive. Pharmacists have an important role within the interdisciplinary team and have a responsibility to ensure their knowledge, skills and understanding are adequate to provide patient-centred evidence-based advice.