JOURNAL ARTICLE

To Receive or Not to Receive Analgesics in the Emergency Department: The Importance of the Pain Intensity Assessment and Initial Nursing Assessment

Åsa Muntlin Athlin, Marianne Carlsson, Lena Gunningberg
Pain Management Nursing: Official Journal of the American Society of Pain Management Nurses 2015, 16 (5): 743-50
26028609
Patients seeking emergency care for abdominal pain still experience poor pain management. Pain intensity is not always seen as a mandatory parameter in the initial nurse assessment. Despite the development of nurse-initiated analgesic protocols, many patients do not receive analgesics in the emergency department. The aim of this study was to describe initial nursing assessment related to pain management and to identify predictors for receiving or not receiving analgesics in the emergency department. The sample consists of 100 patients from an intervention group in a previously undertaken Swedish intervention study. The main findings were that the registered nurses assessed 62 patients as being in need of analgesics, and that 52 of these obtained analgesics. The majority of the patients assessed as not being in need of analgesics did not receive analgesics because they did not want medication. Median value for pain intensity at initial assessment was 6 on the numerical rating scale. The results for the logistic regression (n = 80) showed significant differences between receiving analgesics/not receiving analgesics and the predictor pain intensity (measured at initial nurse assessment). Nurses in emergency departments play a crucial role, in that their initial assessment is of specific importance for the patient's further care and whether the patient may or may not receive analgesics. However, more attention has to be paid to patients' experiences and their expectations regarding the pain management in the emergency department. These complex questions have to be studied further in a more systematic way.

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