Risk Management Tools & Resources


Tips for Presenting a Patient With a Pain Management Contract

Tips for Presenting a Patient With a Pain Management Contract

Pain management contracting is one strategy that healthcare providers can employ to help manage the risks associated with treating patients who take opioids. A pain management contract is a type of behavior contract, which is an agreement between a patient and healthcare provider or organization that defines expectations related to behavior, conduct, communication, and/or treatment. Using a pain management contract can help set standards and expectations in relation to a patient’s care, the provider–patient relationship, and appropriate use of opioid therapy.

Presenting a patient with a pain management contract might be difficult or uncomfortable. As the treating clinician, you should ensure that you and your staff members are prepared for the process. Patients may react differently to pain management contracts. Some might accept it with understanding, while others might push back or become hostile. You and your staff members should be knowledgeable about organizational procedures for handling hostile and aggressive patients and visitors.

Prior to presenting a pain management contract, determine what you plan to say to the patient. Role playing can be an effective way to practice presenting pain management contracts and to test procedures for handling hostile behavior.

When discussing a pain management contract with a patient, be firm, yet appropriately compassionate. Emphasize the concept that patient care is a team effort, and make it personal by highlighting the team members — you, the patient, the staff, etc. Explain to the patient that all team members must work together effectively to ensure appropriate and safe care and to maintain the provider–patient relationship.

To avoid catching the patient off guard, consider sending the pain management contract with a cover letter explaining its purpose to the patient before his/her next appointment. This gives the patient (as well as caregivers and/or family members) time to absorb the concept and consider any potential questions.

To learn more about pain management contracts and other types of behavior contracts, read MedPro’s guideline Using Behavior Contracts to Improve Patient Adherence and Address Behavioral Issues.

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