Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Nursing Best Practice Guidelines

Background – Guiding Principles of Pain Assessment and Management
  • Patients have the right to the best pain relief possible.
  • Unrelieved acute pain has consequences and nurses should prevent pain where possible.
  • Unrelieved pain requires a critical analysis of pain-related factors and interventions.
  • Pain is a subjective, multidimensional and highly variable experience for everyone regardless of age or special needs.
  • Nurses are legally and ethically obligated to advocate for change in the treatment plan where pain relief is inadequate.
  • Collaboration with patients and families is required in making pain management decisions.
  • Effective pain assessment and management is multidimensional in scope and requires coordinated interdisciplinary intervention.
  • Clinical competency in pain assessment and management demands ongoing education.
  • Effective use of opioid analgesics should facilitate routine activities such as ambulation, physical therapy, and activities of daily living.
  • Nurses are obligated to participate in formal evaluation of the processes and outcomes of pain management at the organizational level.
  • Nurses have a responsibility to negotiate along with other health professionals for organizational change to facilitate improved pain management practices.
  • Nurses advocate for policy change and resource allocation that will support effective pain management.