Every year, over 260,000 patients in the Netherlands are diagnosed with a traumatic fracture. Many patients are treated surgically and need postoperative treatment of pain. Research suggests postoperative pain is often under-treated, leaving a significant proportion of patients in moderate to severe postoperative pain. Specialized, evidence-based pain-management protocols offer patients the best possible pain management, and significantly reduce the risk of pain-related health complications.
Our objective was to review the range of postoperative pain protocols that are currently being used to treat postoperative fracture pain within the Netherlands, and investigate whether a specialized, evidence-based protocol for treating postoperative fracture pain exists within this sample.
A written request for the protocol currently being used for the treatment of postoperative pain following the surgical treatment of a fracture was sent to 101 Dutch hospital departments. The administration and dosage of pain medications used during postoperative pain management were then identified and summarized.
Of the contacted hospitals, 57% sent in protocols; 45% of these were eligible for analysis. All of the departments sent a general or acute pain protocol rather than a specialized protocol for the treatment of postoperative pain associated with the surgical treatment of fractures. A total of 22 different analgesics were used for pain management in 135 different administration schemes. Paracetamol, diclofenac, and morphine were used in the majority of protocols. Medication was given via oral, rectal, intravenous, subcutaneous, intramuscular, and epidural routes, amongst others.
No specialized, evidence-based protocols for the treatment of postoperative fracture pain were found in this Dutch sample. A wide variety of medications, dosages, and administration schemes were used to manage postoperative pain following the surgical treatment of a fracture. The importance of developing a clear, specialized, evidence-based protocol for the treatment of postoperative pain following fracture surgery is discussed.