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Patient, Soothe Thyself

Device uses electrical current to move pain medication through skin

MONDAY, Oct. 13, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- There's a new device that lets patients administer their own pain medication without the need for needles or intravenous catheters.

The device, called a patient-controlled transdermal system (PCTS), delivers pain medication through the skin using a low-level electric current. It's currently being assessed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Along with eliminating the discomfort of needles or catheters, the PCTS may also increase patient safety by reducing drug mix-ups and other potential problems, according to a prepared statemenby by Dr. Eugene R. Viscusi, the director of the Acute Pain Management Service at Thomas Jefferson University. He presented his findings Monday at the American Society of Anesthesiologists' annual meeting in San Francisco.

"This technology could also eliminate the need for cumbersome pain pumps mounted to an I.V. pole with the accompanying tubes and wires and could provide more continuous, complete pain relief," Viscusi says.

The PCTS is about the size of a credit card but slightly thicker. It's worn on the upper arm or chest. The device dispenses pain medication over a 10-minute span when it's activated by the patient by double-clicking on a button.

When the PCTS inactivated, the drug is safely stored inside the device and can't penetrate the skin.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about pain.

SOURCE: American Society of Anesthesiologists, news release, Oct. 13, 2003
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