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Press Release

ASHP, SCCM Partner to Update Pain Management Guidelines

Patients undergoing treatment in intensive care units can now benefit from the expertise of a multidisciplinary team of health professionals whose recommendations appear in two groundbreaking practice guidelines recently issued by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) and American College of Critical Care Medicine of the Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM). The clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) catalog the latest research findings on the sustained use of sedatives, analgesics, and neuromuscular blocking agents and guide clinicians in their appropriate use for critically ill patients.

The guidance documents evaluate the findings of numerous studies and include comparisons of pain assessment scales, preferred agents for specific clinical indications, and principles for appropriate dosing. The CPGs also focus on setting treatment goals and strongly advocate for regular monitoring of the sedation level and pain relief of patients.

The CPGs are revisions of documents first published by SCCM in 1995. The updated guidelines contain the results of a comprehensive evaluation of available medical literature published since the release of the original documents. A task force composed of pharmacists, physicians, nurses and other clinicians participated in the literature review and drafting of the guidelines. The collaboration marks the first time ASHP has worked with another organization to develop and publish therapeutic guidelines.

"The ASHP and SCCM partnership provided a unique opportunity to leverage the practice expertise of each organization," said ASHP CEO and Executive Vice President Henri R. Manasse, Jr., Ph.D., Sc.D. "The resulting guidelines will be vitally important references for clinicians who treat patients in intensive care and cardiac care units."

The guidelines were published in the January 15, 2002, issue of the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy and the January 2002, issue of Critical Care Medicine.

The Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) is the largest multidisciplinary, multiprofessional organization dedicated to ensuring excellence and consistency in the practice of critical care medicine. With nearly 10,000 worldwide members, SCCM is the only organization that represents all professional components of the critical care team—physicians, nurses, clinical pharmacists and pharmacologists, and respiratory care practitioners. The Society offers a variety of activities that promotes excellence in patient care, education, research, and advocacy. Its American College of Critical Care Medicine includes the development and promulgation of guidelines and practice parameters among its functions. For more information, visit

ASHP is the 31,000-member national professional association that represents pharmacists who practice in hospitals, health maintenance organizations, long-term care facilities, home care, and other components of health care systems. ASHP, which has a long history of medication error prevention efforts, believes that the mission of pharmacists is to help people make the best use of medicines. Assisting pharmacists in fulfilling this mission is ASHP's primary objective. The Society has extensive publishing and educational programs designed to help members improve their delivery of pharmaceutical care, and it is the national accrediting organization for pharmacy residency and pharmacy technician training programs. For more information, visit ASHP’s Web site,