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
- It frees the nurses for other hospital duties