Controlling pain in hospitalized patients is a challenging task. Patient preference strongly favors PCA over conventional analgesia. Patients using PCA also obtain better pain relief than those using conventional analgesia, without an increase in side effects (Brown BW Jr., J Clin Anesth. 1993 May-Jun;5(3):179-81)
In a hospital setting, a PCA refers to an electronically controlled infusion pump that delivers an amount of intravenous analgesic when the patient presses a button. PCA can be used for both acute and chronic pain patients. It is commonly used for post-operative pain management, and for end-stage cancer patients.
Narcotics are the most common analgesics administered through PCAs.