none

THE ANAESTHETIST’S VIEW

28-11-2017
by 
in 

In his role as a senior specialist anaesthetist, Dr Rowan Molnar deals with many patients who are each managed by different doctors, and so is exposed to a broad overview of the Australian population. He is under no illusion as to the scale of the national opioid painkiller crisis.

“Chronic pain is a widespread issue,” he says, “and while ten years ago we thought that opioid painkillers were the answer, we now know that they are of no benefit for chronic pain.”

For Dr Molnar, this presents a major professional problem. Part of the role of the anaesthetist is to prescribe medication to alleviate post-operative acute pain. However, if a patient is already taking medication for chronic pain the anaesthetist has to perform a balancing act between the patient’s acquired tolerance to the medication and the potential for feeding an addiction.

“We need to find a way of providing pain relief after surgery,” he says, “and sometimes this can be difficult to deal with.” He admits that in some cases it can even be “a case of trial and error” in finding the correct level of medication, starting too low and raising levels until sufficient relief has been found.

So how did we get to this position? Rather than apportion blame, Dr Molnar feels that the medical profession has learned its lesson.

“Medicine is an evolving speciality,” he says. “The field of knowledge continues to change.” And he illustrates the phenomenon by saying “50 per cent of what I learnt in medical school is now wrong.”

“Pain medicine is now a speciality in its own right,” he adds. “We know what we’ve done wrong in the past, and we know how to fix it.”

“It’s encouraging that more and more young doctors are getting involved in the field of pain medicine.”

Dr Molnar points to the necessity of treating pain, not with drugs, but by using the resources of multidisciplinary teams to help the patient manage the issue and get back to something close to a normal life. “You can’t manage chronic pain on your own,” he says, “but you do need to understand what pain is about.”

“Rehabilitation is paramount,” he says. “You can’t just write a prescription for pills.”

Related news & editorials

  1. 24.05.2018
    24.05.2018
    by      In
    Rio Tinto has announced that Australia’s Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator has approved the autonomous operation of trains at its iron ore businesses in WA.
    After several years of regulatory hurdles, delays, and slowly increasing coverage of its automated haulage network of freight... Read More
  2. 24.05.2018
    24.05.2018
    by      In
    A new reactive battery system has been switched on, stabilising the power grid of a coastal town with wildly variable energy demands.
    The autonomous system is located in the fishing village of Cape Jervis, and is part of a $3.65 million power stabilisation trial that could lead to town batteries... Read More
  3. 24.05.2018
    24.05.2018
    by      In
    The world of workplace health and safety descended on the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre yesterday for the first day of the all-new Workplace Health & Safety Show. And it did so in big numbers, with the opening day attendance estimated in excess of 1200.
    It helped that the show is... Read More
  4. 23.05.2018
    23.05.2018
    by      In
    International industry leaders in renewable energy and storage are meeting in Adelaide for the 2018 Australian Energy Storage Conference and Exhibition.
    Sam Staples, AES Sales Manager and Conference Programme Manager, said South Australia’s ongoing work in the renewable energy sector makes it the... Read More