University of Washington pain medicine experts shared information with more than 350 Madigan, tri-service and Veteran Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System providers and nurses during a pain management conference Jan. 31.

"This is a big cultural change for all the providers at Madigan," said Nancy Poffenberger, Madigan pain consultant. "All of our providers touch pain patients and to understand how that is different from curing a disease is a very important step."

The conference is the first step in an education and information process designed to assist attendees as they work to synchronize the interdisciplinary delivery of pain management to their patients as outlined in the recommendations made by the Pain Management Task Force chartered by the U.S. Army Surgeon General in 2010. Throughout the day, briefings and break-out sessions presented by UW Medicine and hospital staff took place on a variety of subjects, such as communicating with patients on pain and best practices in primary pain care.

Dr. Alex Cahana, Chief of the Division of Pain Medicine at UW Medicine, was among the numerous pain management experts participating in the conference. Officials from the UW have been working closely with Madigan and the VA Puget Sound Health Care System to address chronic pain in injured service members and veterans. Dr. Cahana recently hosted U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Philip Volpe, Commanding General of the Western Regional Medical Command at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington, who toured the UW Center for Pain Relief and was briefed on the award-winning pain management initiatives Dr. Cahana and his team are spearheading at UW Medicine.

"This collaboration is a direct result from the report of the pain task force signed by the Army Surgeon General," said Cahana. "We want to create a common approach and strategy to treat pain in the DoD, VA System and the University of Washington for the benefit of the warriors, veterans and their Families."

All conference participants brought with them a unique combination of expertise, infra-structure and baseline resources to implement this collaborative effort.