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Staff roles and responsibilities for pain management

The following staff roles and responsibilities for pain management in companion animal practice create a general context for the implementation of a more specific pain management protocol (see the "Model Pain Management Protocol").


  • Assess pain in every patient, regardless of appointment type (wellness, acute care, follow-up).
  • Develop pain management and prevention SOPs on:
  • Weight optimization
  • Prevention of dental disease
  • In-clinic handling and hospitalization procedures to avoid pain and fear
  • The PLATTER (PLan, Anticipate, TreaT, Evaluate, Return)
  • Implement the practice’s pain management protocol (see the model protocol).
  • Provide staff education on:
  • Effective client communication and education
  • Recognition and assessment of pain
  • Drug mode of action, interactions, and prevention and recognition of adverse reactions

Technician and other patient-care personnel

  • Obtain patient’s medical and complete medication history (include nutritional supplements).
  • Anticipate painful clinical procedures.
  • Apply proper patient handling and stress-relieving techniques.
  • Recognize signs of pain and and alert veterinarian.
  • Administer medications and other treatments as directed by veterinarian.
  • Recognize potential adverse reactions from treatment, and alert veterinarian if noted.
  • Update patient records.
  • Assess postoperative patients, and record pain scores.
  • Assess chronic pain patients, and record pain scores.
  • Maintain effective client education and follow-up.
  • Provide client education consisting of verbal and written instructions for pain management, including prevention and recognition of potential adverse drug reactions.
  • Interface between pet owner and veterinarian regarding ongoing patient care.
  • Contact client following exam to respond to questions and concerns.

Reception and other client-service personnel

  • Be able to recognize patient indicators of pain at presentation to the hospital.
  • Schedule follow-up appointment.
  • Refer questions to medical staff as appropriate.
  • Remind clients that they are part of a team-based approach to pain management, which requires their understanding, compliance, and feedback.