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Doctor helps palliative patients manage pain without narcotics

Author: Kathryn Perrier
28 May 2018

Patients are taught to self-administer local anesthetics as needed and can be present with their loved ones

It’s really tough for anyone who is supporting their loved one through their final days of life.  Caregivers don’t always know what to expect and most don’t realize that the patient could need pain medication that could render them unable to communicate.  But at Southlake Regional Health Centre (Southlake), Dr. Alim Punja is providing compassionate care to palliative patients that allows them to manage their pain without narcotics.

When patients receive a terminal cancer diagnosis, the question of how much pain they will experience is always top of mind.  Southlake’s Palliative Care team and Dr. Punja are taking chronic pain management to the next level to allow patients to live their remaining days with less pain and less sedation during those last meaningful moments.

“Uncontrolled pain is something that all palliative patients and their families worry about in their final stages of life and knowing that there may be an alternative solution gives patients and their families hope,” says Dr. Punja, on ways he is always looking to do things better for his patients.

Dr. Punja is an anesthesiologist at Southlake.  He has extensive expertise in treating cancer-related pain for our palliative patient population.  Together with the Palliative care doctors, they have found a way to help our palliative cancer-care patients manage their pain while decreasing or avoiding the use of narcotics.

Most recently, Dr. Punja treated a patient who was using very high doses of narcotics for pain that made her essentially uncommunicative with her family.  Dr Punja arranged for her to have a permanent IV line and taught her partner to administer small doses of local anesthetic at home, as needed.

In the final days of her life, this patient was essentially off all narcotics and could fully communicate with her family.  Families and patients say Dr. Punja’s work, to keep his patients comfortable and able to communicate in their last days of life, means the world to them and to their loved ones. They are also grateful to Dr. Punja for giving them time together. Without this alternative treatment, they would have never been able to say everything they needed to say during those last days and moments. Read more...

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