Are Hospital Whiteboards the Right Prescription for Pain and Medication Management?

Apr 30, 2020

pain scale

Managing patient pain is one of the most important things hospitals can do to increase patient satisfaction and HCAHPS scores, especially for post-operative patients. More than 22% of HCAHPS questions, a full 6 out of the 27, ask patients about pain management and medication they receive during their hospital stay. Combine this statistic with those found by researchers, which revealed that 86% of post-surgical patients had experienced moderate to acute painand you have a recipe for higher patient satisfaction scores. This all begins with proper pain and medication management.  

Using Whiteboards to Manage Pain in Hospitals 

Proper and effective pain management is more than simply prescribing and administering medication to patients. Many people react differently to the variety of pain medications on the market, and pain tolerance can vary from person to person. Some patients find they need a greater allowable dosage, some less. Other patients find that they need medication administered more often than others. Patients also want to know what types of side effects they can expect from medications. Providers need to know if patients are suffering from any of the more severe side effects, which will lead to a discontinuation of its use. 

In practice, pain management is as much a matter of communication as it is a matter of prescribing the right medications. This is where hospital whiteboards come into play during treatment. When used as communication tools, there are several ways patient room whiteboards can aid in the management of pain and the proper administration of medication. 

Visual-Based Pain Scales 

Visual-based pain scales are an interactive and visual way for patients to express their level of pain to caregivers in real time, throughout their stay in a hospital. These emotive displays are easier for patients to decipher and use to describe their pain when compared to numeric pain scales, allowing patients to adequately describe their pain, which can be used by care teams to determine if medications need to be increased (either in dosage or frequency) or changed altogether. 

Providing Information 

Many patients struggle and resist taking medication for one of many reasons: 

  1. They do not understand how it helps them become better 

  1. They are uncertain about the side effects they will experience 

  1. They do not feel any differently while taking medication 

  1. They do not like the way the medication makes them feel 


Most of these issues can be solved by a greater amount of communication. Healthcare whiteboards can act as a visual learning tool that aids in the explanation of medications, why they are being given, and what can be expected by taking them. All of these things help put the minds of patients at ease during their stay. Patient room boards also inform and remind patients how often they can take their medication and when they can expect to receive their next dosage, making them feel more informed and involved in their care. 


Not all medication side effects are normal. Some can even be dangerous. Part of mitigating this danger is educating patients on which side effects to look out for. But when a patient is taking many medications, all of which have the potential of interacting with one another and causing undesirable side effects, it’s critical for them to know which side effects are normal and which are not. More importantly, it’s critical for patients to know when they should inform staff if they are experiencing a dangerous side effect. Hospital whiteboards can be used as a constant reminder of the side effects patients should be cognizant of and when to inform care team staff.  


Managing pain is only one of the ways hospital whiteboards can increase patient satisfaction. Learn more about how these communication tools can help increase HCAHPS scores.