Pain scores improve analgesic administration patterns for trauma patients in the emergency department

Paul A Silka, Mendel M Roth, Greg Moreno, Lindsay Merrill, Joel M Geiderman
Academic Emergency Medicine 2004, 11 (3): 264-70

OBJECTIVE: To determine the efficacy of pain scores in improving pain management practices for trauma patients in the emergency department (ED).

METHODS: A prospective, observational study of analgesic administration to trauma patients was conducted over a nine-week period following educational intervention and introduction of verbal pain scores (VPSs). All ED nursing and physician staff in an urban Level I trauma center were trained to use the 0-10 VPS. Patients younger than 12 years old, having a Glasgow Coma Scale score (GCS) <8, or requiring intubation were excluded from analysis. Demographics, mechanism of injury, vital signs, pain scores, and analgesic data were extracted from a computerized ED database and patients' records. The staff was blinded to the ongoing study.

RESULTS: There were 150 patients studied (183 consecutive trauma patients seen; 33 patients excluded per criteria). Pain scores were documented for 73% of the patients. Overall, 53% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 45% to 61%) of the patients received analgesics in the ED. Of the patients who had pain scores documented, 60% (95% CI = 51% to 69%) received analgesics, whereas 33% (95% CI = 18% to 47%) of the patients without pain scores received analgesics. No patient with a VPS < 4 received analgesics, whereas 72% of patients with a VPS > 4 and 82% with a VPS > 7 received analgesics. Mean time to analgesic administration was 68 minutes (95% CI = 49 to 87).

CONCLUSIONS: Pain assessment using VPS increased the likelihood of analgesic administration to trauma patients with higher pain scores in the ED.

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