Patient-Controlled Analgesia (PCA)

The patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) system is an option for caring for pain during cancer treatment. This system is usually set up in the post-operative setting in the hospital, where intravenous or IV pain management is needed for acute or intense pain.

The PCA system allows the patient to administer a pre-measured dose of pain killer or analgesic by pressing a button. A pump attached with a pre-filled syringe containing the analgesic delivers small doses of pain killer is administered through the IV.

The risk of overdose is minimized by setting the dosage and the minimum time intervals (about 8 to 10 minutes) between each button press. As a safety feature, the syringe is locked inside the pump and can only be accessed by the nurse or doctor.

Clinical studies showed that PCA allows the patients to maintain adequate comfort level in respect to pain without the risk of over-sedation or overdose. These patients actually tend to use less pain killers than normally given by injections.

Other benefits of patient-controlled analgesia include:

  • Patient is alert and active during the day
  • No pain while waiting for injection
  • No injection required, so no pain from the actual injection itself
  • It frees the nurses for other hospital duties

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