Anesthesiology Opens New Duke Perioperative Pain Care Clinic

Duke Anesthesiology took another step forward this past Monday in its mission to improve patient outcomes with the opening of a new clinic, Duke Perioperative Pain Care.

Clinic medical director Dr. Padma Gulur said the clinic is the first in the country where the same team of pain specialists see patients before, during and after their surgery with a focus on optimizing their functional recovery from the surgery. “To have the ability to help patients minimize their risk of developing persistent or worsening pain after surgery is very meaningful,” Gulur said.

Studies show that some surgeries are linked to a higher risk for patients to develop ongoing pain, even after their wounds have healed, and that proper pain management can contribute to a quicker recovery and reduced hospital stay.

At the Duke Perioperative Pain Care, physicians will create a personalized care plan for each patient. These plans identify pain management needs prior to and following surgery that reduces the risk of developing ongoing or chronic pain, allowing patients to return to full function after surgery and transition back into their community.

“As we research health care delivery models to improve patient outcomes, a key focus is to identify opportunities for improvement that would result in better patient outcomes,” says Gulur, who also serves as Duke Anesthesiology’s vice chair for operations and performance. “As a practicing pain physician, like many others, we have all recognized the value of identifying those who are at risk for developing persistent pain after surgery or those who suffer from chronic pain and are undergoing surgery, and being able to prepare these patients better before surgery.”

The model implemented at Duke Perioperative Pain Care, located inside Duke Clinic at Duke University Medical Center, includes staffing the clinic by the same group of pain physicians that oversee the Inpatient Pain Service at Duke University Hospital. This team visits patients daily and manages their pain during the inpatient stay. This ensures that patients’ pain control plans are coordinated and communicated to all involved physicians.

“These patients benefit from continuity of pain specialist care when they are in the hospital and many times need a helping hand after surgery from this same team of pain specialists to ensure a gentle transition back to outpatient care,” Gulur says. “This clinic is the ideal solution to this as we can see patients before surgery to identify and optimize their care, follow them while they are in hospital and then continue to provide support as needed for up to 90 days after their surgery.”

The Duke Perioperative Pain Care team celebrates the opening of the clinic at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday.  

Services at Duke Perioperative Pain Care include:

  • Procedures to manage patients’ pain
  • Pain medication management
  • Complementary and wellness strategies
  • Physical activity assessment and exercises
  • Behavioral coping techniques developed to align patients’ pain management and surgical goals

This is the second Duke Health clinic opened by faculty of Duke Anesthesiology in the past six months; Duke Innovative Pain Therapies, a multispecialty pain practice in Raleigh (described as the first-of-its-kind in the world), opened its doors to patients in September 2016.

“Duke Anesthesiology is committed to improving perioperative outcomes and establishing the very best in patient care,” Gulur says. “I hope that Duke Perioperative Pain Care will be used as a model for other institutions and hospitals throughout the nation and ultimately help all patients at Duke Health who undergo surgery achieve their best outcomes.”