Epidural Analgesia: A Viable Option for Pain Control

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Epidural analgesia is an important intervention for both acute and chronic pain management. It has been in use since the early 1900s, but the technique using local application of opiate analgesics has only been in use since the late 1970s (Moulin & Coyle, 1986). Today, many patients receive epidural analgesia for postoperative pain control, and its use for acute or chronic pain management in a hospital, pain clinic, or home setting also continues to increase. Epidural analgesia is also being utilized to manage acute pain in the pediatric client.Epidural analgesia requires meticulous techniques, beginning with placement of the epidural catheter and continuing with administration of medications and nursing management of the catheter. Nursing assessment and development of protocols along with preoperative and postoperative patient and family teaching are vital components of the total plan of care. The nurse practitioner (NP) or other health care provider must be cognizant of safety considerations, whether in the hospital environment, pain clinic, or home setting.

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