DoD/VA Pain Task Force*

Key Points for Service Improvement

The Uniformed Services boast an impressive group of pain medicine physician subspecialist but they are relatively few in number when compared with the mission. In addition to ensuring there are continued efforts to grow and retain pain medicine specialists, the MHS must develop a supporting team of clinicians and staff to assist specialists in addressing the pain management needs of their patients and staff.

Pain medicine should be managed by integrated care teams which employ a biopsychosocial model of care. The standard of care should have objectives to decrease overreliance on medication driven solutions and create an interdisciplinary approach that encourages collaboration among providers from differing specialties.

The DoD should continue to responsibly explore safe and effective use of advanced and non-traditional approaches to pain management and support efforts to make these modalities covered benefits once they prove safe, effective and cost efficient. MHS Leadership must establish pain as a priority, with an urgency that leads to practice changes. The focus should be on prevention, followed by prompt and appropriate treatment that seeks to relieve acute pain and eliminate progression to chronic pain when possible.

Including the VHA in this strategy is essential. DoD and VA should cooperate and share common educational materials, venues, protocols, and formularies. A common standard would demonstrate the power of a unified effort and expedite achievement of the common goal: providing a standardized DoD and VHA vision and approach to pain management to optimize the care for Warriors and their Families.

*Office of the Army Surgeon General. “Pain Management Task Force Final Report: Providing a Standardized DoD and VHA Vision and Approach to Pain Management to Optimize the Care for Warriors and their Families.” May 2010