A patient controlled analgesia (PCA) pump delivers pain relief medication to a patient through an intravenous cannula when they push a button. A PCA pump is usually used for patients after they have had an operation. PCA are not common in Intensive care as patients must be fully conscious to use them properly
How Does it Work?
The pain relief medication is set up like an IV fluid infusion with the IV tubing running through the PCA pump. The pump is programmed by the nurse using specific orders from a doctor before it is attached to the patient so that the safety features and alarms are enabled. This programming allows the patient to safely deliver small doses of pain medication to themselves without the danger of over medication. It is absolutely important that only the patient presses the button.
As the patient experiences pain, they are able to press the button attached to the pump which delivers a dose of pain medication. After pressing the button a beep is heard and the medication is delivered. The safety features ensure that small amounts of pain relief are delivered each time the button is pressed so that the patient does not become too drowsy. This process is monitored closely to ensure the patient is getting adequate pain relief. Some hospitals have special Pain teams who monitor this for the patient’s doctors.
Are There Any Complications?
All Intensive Care interventions and procedures carry a degree of potential risk even when performed by skilled and experienced staff. Please discuss these issues with the medical and nursing staff who are caring for the patient.
Of course, if you have any questions or concerns, please discuss them with the ICU nurses and doctors.
Patient Controlled Analgesia Version 1.2
First Published June 2004
Reviewed March 2010
Reviewed by Kaye Rolls CNC ICCMU
The information contained on this page is general in nature and therefore cannot reflect individual patient variation. In addition it reflects Australian intensive care practice which may differ from other countries. It is meant as a back up to specific information which will be discussed with you by the Doctors and Nurses caring for your loved one. ICCMU attests to the accuracy of the information contained here BUT takes no responsibility for how it may apply to an individual patient. Please refer to the full disclaimer.