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Australian Patients Association wants chronic pain coordinators in every GP clinic

Photo: Australian Patients Association wants chronic pain coordinators in every GP clin....
With one in three Australians over the age of 65 suffering from chronic pain, The Australian Patients Association is calling for coordinators trained in pain management to be a standard feature of primary care medical practices.

The role would coordinate care in a highly complex medical system in which patients struggle with medication compliance, access to specialists, and financial management.

To address confusion around medication misuse The Australian Patients Association held a forum exploring the impact of prescription medications entitled Medication Myths, Mistakes and Misuse, at the Melbourne Town Hall on Sunday 5th August 2018.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare National Drug Strategy Household survey 2016 found that 2.5 million (or 12.8%) people in Australia misused a pharmaceutical drug at some point in their lifetime. 1 in 20 (4.8%) Australians misused a pharmaceutical in the last 12 months with pain-killers/analgesics and opioids the most commonly misused class of pharmaceutical (3.6%)1.
Pain is one of the most common reasons people seek medical assistance. One in five Australians live with chronic pain and the prevalence of chronic pain is projected to increase as Australia’s population ages – from around 3.2 million in 2007 to 5 million by 20502.

Thirty-eight-year-old Alana Jordan is a Melbourne-based manager who has coped with chronic pain since the age of 17.

Despite years of experience and a high level of health literacy, she struggles through the existing delivery care model.

“Chronic pain is invisible for most people - you don’t look sick! You have to coordinate with a lot of specialists, General Practitioners, pharmacists, and rehab specialists.

There is frequently confusing and contradictory advice. Desperation can lead you to jump online and find solutions via forums, but there is a clear lack of knowledge about side-effects and potential drug interactions among many website forum members.

A medically trained, trusted advisor for pain management and referrals, that is more easily accessible than a GP or specialist would be a huge help.”

The Australian Patients Association believes the complexity of the day to day management means that patients should be able to access an advocate to assist in treatment.

National Strategy Director of the Australian Patients Association, Michael Riley says,

“Chronic pain is a complex condition marked by unpredictable and potentially debilitating flare-ups. This can wreak havoc on a person’s ability to sleep, work, care for their families and has a strong association with mental illness, including depression.

Reponses to pain medication vary drastically between individuals.

“GP clinics are an ideal location for advanced practice nurses trained specifically in pain management who can advise patients on medication, track results and work with patients to identify lifestyle changes that may reduce or prevent flare-ups.”

The Australian Patients Association is dedicated to championing and protecting the rights and interests of patients and improving overall patient care and health outcomes.

The forum explored appropriate use of prescription medications, discuss pain management and how patients, the pharmaceutical industry, doctors and pharmacists can work together to educate the public on the appropriate use of medications and harm prevention strategies.

Australian Patients Association Hotline 03 9274 0788 helps thousands of patients and relatives every year in answering their queries about any aspect of the healthcare system.

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