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Analgesic administration in the emergency department for children requiring hospitalization for long-bone fracture.

OBJECTIVES: The objective of the study was to describe analgesia utilization before and during the emergency department (ED) visit and assess factors associated with analgesia use in pediatric patients with isolated long-bone fractures.

METHODS: This retrospective cohort study of patients aged 0 to 15 years with a diagnosis of an isolated long-bone fracture was conducted at a single, level I pediatric trauma center. Patients included were treated in the ED within 12 hours of injury and subsequently admitted to the hospital from January 2005 through August 2007. Pain medication received within the first hour after ED arrival was categorized based on prespecified standard doses as follows: adequate, inadequate, and no pain medication received. Cumulative logistic regression analysis assessed factors associated with analgesia use.

RESULTS: There were 773 patients with isolated long-bone fracture included in the analysis. Overall, 10% of patients received adequate pain medicine; 31% received inadequate medicine; and 59% received no pain medicine within 1 hour of ED arrival. In multivariable analysis, children with younger age, longer time from injury to ED arrival, closed fractures, and upper-extremity fractures were less likely to receive adequate pain medicine during the ED visit. Of those transported by emergency medical services directly from the scene to the ED, 9 (10%) of 88 were given pain medication during transport.

CONCLUSIONS: Pain management in pediatric patients following a traumatic injury has been recognized as an important component of care. This study suggests that alleviation of pain after traumatic injury requires further attention in both the prehospital and ED settings, especially among the youngest children.

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