Journal Article
Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
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Impact of early analgesia on hospitalization outcomes for sickle cell pain crisis.

BACKGROUND: Painful events are the leading cause of hospitalizations for patients with sickle cell disease. Individualized pain plans targeting patient-specific maximum opioid dosing may shorten hospitalization length and are recommended by national guidelines. Prior to implementing individualized sickle cell pain plans, we tested the hypothesis that a shorter time to achieve a maximum opioid dose would improve hospitalization outcomes.

PROCEDURE: Two-year IRB-approved, retrospective study of pediatric patients admitted for vaso-occlusive crisis (VOC). We recorded the emergency department admission time, order entry time for the maximum opioid dose during the hospitalization, and time of discharge orders.  We categorized patients as infrequent if they required <3 admissions for VOC over two years and patients as frequent if they required ≥3 admissions for VOC over two years. To account for multiple admissions, generalized linear modeling was performed.

RESULTS: We identified 236 admissions for acute pain observed in 108 patients. Achieving an earlier maximum opioid dose was significantly associated with shorter length of hospitalization for frequent and infrequent pain patients (both P ≤ 0.0001). As total hospitalization length can be impacted by the time a maximum opioid order was placed, we also analyzed hospitalization length after the maximum opioid order was placed. Frequent pain patients who achieved earlier analgesia had a significantly shorter hospitalization from the time the maximum opioid order was placed (P = 0.03) while no association was found for infrequent pain patients (P = 0.84).

CONCLUSIONS: Early achievement of maximum analgesia improved hospitalization outcomes and warrant further investigation in prospective studies of individualized pain plans.

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