The nurse is caring for a client who just had a laparoscopic appendectomy. The client tells the nurse that she does not want “drugs” for pain management, but prefers alternative therapy and/or complementary therapy. Which is the best response by the nurse?

  1. “I know of some herbs and supplements that you can take to manage the pain.”
  2. “Tell me what works for you, and I will see what we can provide for your comfort.”
  3. “We use real medicine here in the hospital, so I will bring you hydrocodone for pain when you need it.”
  4. “Yoga always relaxes me. I will get you a foam mat from physical therapy so you can practice when you want.”
Number 2 is correct.
Rationale: Asking clients what works for them shows respect for their practices and beliefs. Some low-risk therapies that the client might try include music therapy, meditation, prayer, and relaxation techniques. For mild pain, distraction may be helpful to remove the focus from the pain. Once the nurse knows the client’s preferences, the health care provider can be consulted as to which therapies may be ordered. The nurse should not recommend any herbs or supplements for pain. This constitutes practicing medicine without a license. Any medication the client takes, including over-the-counter medicines or supplements, must be ordered by the provider. Some herbal mixtures or supplements can be toxic, and there is no consistent standard for such products. The client has had anesthesia for the procedure, therefore increasing the risk of an interaction between anesthesia and an unknown substance. Telling the client that they only use “real” medicine in the hospital shows a lack of respect for the client and her beliefs and is insulting. The nurse should not insist on opioids or other medications if the client states that she does not want to take them. While yoga may help relieve stress and pain, a client who is newly post-op will not be able to perform such activities. The nurse is also pushing his own agenda by telling the client what works for him. The focus is on therapies that help the client, not the nurse.