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      Problems and barriers of pain management in the emergency department: Are we ever going to get better?

      2 , 1 , 2

      Journal of pain research

      Dove Medical Press

      oligoanalgesia, emergency department, pain management

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          Abstract

          Pain is the most common reason people visit emergency rooms. Pain does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race or age. The state of pain management in the emergency department (ED) is disturbing. ED physicians often do not provide adequate analgesia to their patients, do not meet patients’ expectations in treating their pain, and struggle to change their practice regarding analgesia. A review of multiple publications has identified the following causes of poor management of painful conditions in the ED: failure to acknowledge pain, failure to assess initial pain, failure to have pain management guidelines in ED, failure to document pain and to assess treatment adequacy, and failure to meet patient’s expectations. The barriers that preclude emergency physicians from proper pain management include ethnic and racial bias, gender bias, age bias, inadequate knowledge and formal training in acute pain management, opiophobia, the ED, and the ED culture. ED physicians must realize that pain is a true emergency and treat it as such.

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          Most cited references 45

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          Trends in opioid prescribing by race/ethnicity for patients seeking care in US emergency departments.

          National quality improvement initiatives implemented in the late 1990s were followed by substantial increases in opioid prescribing in the United States, but it is unknown whether opioid prescribing for treatment of pain in the emergency department has increased and whether differences in opioid prescribing by race/ethnicity have decreased. To determine whether opioid prescribing in emergency departments has increased, whether non-Hispanic white patients are more likely to receive an opioid than other racial/ethnic groups, and whether differential prescribing by race/ethnicity has diminished since 2000. Pain-related visits to US emergency departments were identified using reason-for-visit and physician diagnosis codes from 13 years (1993-2005) of the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. Prescription of an opioid analgesic. Pain-related visits accounted for 156 729 of 374 891 (42%) emergency department visits. Opioid prescribing for pain-related visits increased from 23% (95% confidence interval [CI], 21%-24%) in 1993 to 37% (95% CI, 34%-39%) in 2005 (P < .001 for trend), and this trend was more pronounced in 2001-2005 (P = .02). Over all years, white patients with pain were more likely to receive an opioid (31%) than black (23%), Hispanic (24%), or Asian/other patients (28%) (P < .001 for trend), and differences did not diminish over time (P = .44), with opioid prescribing rates of 40% for white patients and 32% for all other patients in 2005. Differential prescribing by race/ethnicity was evident for all types of pain visits, was more pronounced with increasing pain severity, and was detectable for long-bone fracture and nephrolithiasis as well as among children. Statistical adjustment for pain severity and other factors did not substantially attenuate these differences, with white patients remaining significantly more likely to receive an opioid prescription than black patients (adjusted odds ratio, 0.66; 95% CI, 0.62-0.70), Hispanic patients (0.67; 95% CI, 0.63-0.72), and Asian/other patients (0.79; 95% CI, 0.67-0.93). Opioid prescribing for patients making a pain-related visit to the emergency department increased after national quality improvement initiatives in the late 1990s, but differences in opioid prescribing by race/ethnicity have not diminished.
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            Emergency department crowding is associated with poor care for patients with severe pain.

            We study the impact of emergency department (ED) crowding on delays in treatment and nontreatment for patients with severe pain. We performed a retrospective cohort study of all patients presenting with severe pain to an inner-city, teaching ED during 17 months. Poor care was defined by 3 outcomes: not receiving treatment with pain medication while in the ED, a delay (>1 hour) from triage to first pain medication, and a delay (>1 hour) from room placement to first pain medication. Three validated crowding measures were assigned to each patient at triage. Logistic regression was used to test the association between crowding and outcomes. In 13,758 patients with severe pain, the mean age was 39 years (SD 16 years), 73% were black, and 64% were female patients. Half (49%) of the patients received pain medication. Of those treated, 3,965 (59%) experienced delays in treatment from triage and 1,319 (20%) experienced delays from time of room placement. After controlling for factors associated with the ED treatment of pain (race, sex, severity, and older age), nontreatment was independently associated with waiting room number (odds ratio [OR] 1.03 for each additional waiting patient; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.02 to 1.03) and occupancy rate (OR 1.01 for each 10% increase in occupancy; 95% CI 0.99 to 1.04). Increasing waiting room number and occupancy rate also independently predicted delays in pain medication from triage (OR 1.05 for each waiting patient, 95% CI 1.04 to 1.06; OR 1.18 for each 10% increase in occupancy; 95% CI 1.15 to 1.21) and delay in pain medication from room placement (OR 1.02 for each waiting patient, 95% CI 1.01 to 1.03; OR 1.06 for each 10% increase in occupancy, 95% CI 1.04 to 1.08). ED crowding is associated with poor quality of care in patients with severe pain, with respect to total lack of treatment and delay until treatment.
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              Emergency department workplace interruptions: are emergency physicians "interrupt-driven" and "multitasking"?

              Although interruptions have been shown in aviation and other work settings to result in error with serious and sometimes fatal consequences, little is known about interruptions in the emergency department (ED). The authors conducted an observational, time-motion task-analysis study to determine the number and types of interruptions in the ED. Emergency physicians were observed in three EDs located in an urban teaching hospital, a suburban private teaching hospital, and a rural community hospital. A single investigator followed emergency staff physicians for 180-minute periods and recorded tasks, interruptions, and breaks-intask. An "interruption" was defined as any event that briefly required the attention of the subject but did not result in switching to a new task. A "break-intask" was defined as an event that required the attention of the physician for more than 10 seconds and subsequently resulted in changing tasks. The mean (+/-SD) total number of patients seen at all three sites during the 180-minute study period was 12.1 +/- 3.7 patients (range 5-20). Physicians performed a mean of 67.6 +/- 15.7 tasks per study period. The mean number of interruptions per 180-minute study period was 30.9 +/- 9.7 and the mean number of breaks-in-task was 20.7 +/- 6.3. Both the number of interruptions (r = 0.63; p < 0.001) and the number of breaks-in-task (r = 0.56; p < 0.001) per observation period were positively correlated with the average number of patients simultaneously managed. Emergency physicians are "interruptdriven." Emergency physicians are frequently interrupted and many interruptions result in breaks-in-task.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                J Pain Res
                Journal of Pain Research
                Journal of pain research
                Dove Medical Press
                1178-7090
                2009
                9 December 2008
                : 2
                : 5-11
                Affiliations
                [1 ] Morgan Stanley Children Hospital of New York Presbyterian, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY, USA
                [2 ] Department of Emergency Medicine, Maimonides Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY, USA
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Abu NGA Khan, 622 West 168st Street, PH 137-1, New York, NY 10032, USA, Tel +1 212-305-9825, Email ank14@ 123456columbia.edu
                Article
                jpr-2-005
                3004630
                21197290
                © 2009 Motov and Khan, publisher and licensee Dove Medical Press Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article which permits unrestricted noncommercial use, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Categories
                Perspectives

                Anesthesiology & Pain management

                pain management, emergency department, oligoanalgesia

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