The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) has issued new standards for pain assessment in accredited hospitals and other health care settings, including hospice and home care. Under the new pain management standards, health care facilities will be called upon to recognize the right of patients to appropriate assessment and management of pain; to assess the existence of pain, its nature, and intensity; to record the results of the assessment in a way that facilitates regular reassessment and follow-up; to determine and ensure staff competency in pain assessment and management, and to address pain assessment and management in the orientation of all new staff; to establish policies and procedures that support the appropriate prescription or ordering of effective pain medications; to educate patients and their families about effective pain management; and to address patient needs for symptom management in the discharge planning process. Many health care organizations are reporting confusion and lack of understanding about the scope of the new standards. To address this issue, this article summarizes the new pain management standards. This article is based on a three-part series published in the Journal of Healthcare Safety, Compliance & Infection Control (January, March, and April 2000).