A Closer Look at the Joint Commission’s New Guidelines for Pain Assessment and Management

Photo © Burger / Phanie / Science Photo Library.

Starting on January 1, 2018, the Joint Commission’s new and revised pain assessment and management standards for accredited hospitals will go into effect. Notably, the guidelines—as we report in a November news article—address safe opioid prescribing practices.

Among new requirements, the Joint Commission says hospitals should:

  • Designate a leader or team responsible for pain management and safe opioid prescribing.
  • Include patients in developing a pain management treatment plan—including realistic expectations and measurable goals—and educate them on discharge plans related to opioid adverse effects and safe use, storage, and disposal of opioids.
  • Use prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) databases to identify patients at risk for opioid addiction.
  • Identify opioid addiction treatment programs for patient referrals.
  • Inform staff about consultation and referral services available for patients with complex pain management needs.
  • Collect and analyze data on pain assessment and management to identify areas in which safety and quality could be improved.

The full list of new and revised guidelines is available here. How might these changes affect life for nurses and patients? Comments are welcome below.

2017-12-13T15:23:52+00:00 November 17th, 2017|Nursing, pain management, patient experience|3 Comments

About the Author:

Editor, American Journal of Nursing


  1. Naomi F. D'Abbracci January 10, 2018 at 1:42 pm

    Our huge gap in this plan is the lack of resources in terms of treatment plans. Now if JCAHO could only mandate THAT.

  2. Robin Shabica January 10, 2018 at 11:12 am

    The Joint Comission is one of the main groups who supported pain as the fifth vital sign and advocated for opiate prescription. I hope that they are owning their part in the current opioid crisis.

  3. Scott November 27, 2017 at 2:57 pm

    Of all the new guidelines enacted by the Joint Commission, the “PDMP” database is seemingly most effective in dealing with this complex issue. As a nurse at a very busy emergency room, I see an immense amount of patients that are most likely addicted to opioid analgesics. Some of these patients have become so creative and resourceful when attempting to gain access to these medications that it becomes almost impossible to ascertain who is having a pain crisis and who is just there for the high. I’ve seen everything from someone rolling on the ground begging for “just a milligram”, to patients getting downright aggressive with hospital staff and doctors. Having a database that is accessible by all hospital facilities that tracks opioid administration and prescription would be massively advantageous. I applaud the Joint Commission for taking a realistic look into the emerging opioid crisis in modern health care facilities and I look forward to a brighter future in pain management.

Comments are moderated before approval, but always welcome.

%d bloggers like this: