Unrelieved acute pain remains prevalent in hospitalized patients despite advances in pain management. A decade after the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council called for improved pain management practices by health professionals, it released clinical guidelines to provide clinicians with current scientific evidence to augment their clinical decision-making. This paper examines the implications of national guidelines on nursing practice and highlights the inadequacies of current implementation policies. Pain management guidelines have failed to decrease patients' postoperative pain because organizations and researchers have ignored the impact of contextual influences on clinicians' decision-making. It is recommended that for successful implementation of national guidelines to occur at the local level of practice, organizations must assist clinicians to identify local influences on their decision-making, to address the issues specific to their own work environment and to evaluate any changes in practice.