Patient-Controlled Analgesia System (PCA)

What is patient-controlled analgesia used for?

Patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) is a way for you to get strong medicine to relieve pain through an intravenous (IV) tube and a pump. It lets you control when you get the pain medicine.

PCA may be used for pain relief after an accident or surgery. It may also be used in the hospital or at home if you have chronic, long-term pain.

Your healthcare provider will help you decide how long you will need the pump.

How does it work?

Your healthcare provider prescribes the pain medicine and the pump. A small tube is placed in a vein so that the medicine can be given into your bloodstream. If you start feeling pain, you can press a button on the machine to get more medicine. Talk to your healthcare provider if you are not getting enough pain relief. The system has safeguards to keep you from getting too much medicine.

What else do I need to know about this medicine?

  • Follow the directions that come with your medicine, including information about food or alcohol. Make sure you know how and when to take your medicine. Do not take more or less than you are supposed to take.
  • Many medicines have side effects. A side effect is a symptom or problem that is caused by the medicine. Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist what side effects the medicine may cause and what you should do if you have side effects.
  • Try to get all of your prescriptions filled at the same place. Your pharmacist can help make sure that all of your medicines are safe to take together.
  • Keep a list of your medicines with you. List all of the prescription medicines, nonprescription medicines, supplements, natural remedies, and vitamins that you take. Tell all healthcare providers who treat you about all of the products you are taking.

If you have any questions, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist for more information. Be sure to keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2011-08-09
Last reviewed: 2014-06-02
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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