Background: Pain management in the Emergency Department has often been described as inadequate, despite proven benefits of pain treatment protocols. The aim of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of our current pain protocol on pain score and patient satisfaction whilst taking the patients' wishes for analgesia into account.
Methods: We conducted a 10-day prospective observational study in the Emergency Department. Demographics, pain characteristics, Numeric Rating Scale pain scores and the desire for analgesics were noted upon arrival at the Emergency Department. A second Numeric Rating Scale pain score and the level of patient satisfaction were noted 75-90 min after receiving analgesics. Student T-tests, Mann-Whitney U tests and Kruskall-Wallis tests were used to compare outcomes between patients desiring vs. not desiring analgesics or patients receiving vs. not receiving analgesics. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression models were used to investigate associations between potential predictors and outcomes.
Results: In this study 334 patients in pain were enrolled, of which 43.7% desired analgesics. Initial pain score was the only significant predictive factor for desiring analgesia, and differed between patients desiring (7.01) and not desiring analgesics (5.14). Patients receiving analgesics (52.1%) had a greater decrease in pain score than patients who did not receive analgesics (2.41 vs. 0.94). Within the group that did not receive analgesics there was no difference in satisfaction score between patients desiring and not desiring analgesics (7.48 vs. 7.54). Patients receiving analgesics expressed a higher satisfaction score than patients not receiving analgesics (8.10 vs. 7.53).
Conclusions: This study pointed out that more than half of the patients in pain entering the Emergency Department did not desire analgesics. In patients receiving analgesics, our pain protocol has shown to adequately treat pain, leading to a higher satisfaction for emergency health-care at discharge. This study emphasizes the importance of questioning pain score and desire for analgesics to prevent incorrect conclusions of inadequate pain management, as described in previous studies.