Pain scales often fail to capture what ER patients feel

From Reuters:

“Each patient’s perception of pain is influenced by several variables (anxiety, depression, cultural upbringing, acute vs chronic symptoms, etc),” DeVine told Reuters Health by email. “As physicians, the actual number used to describe the pain is probably less important than the location, pattern, onset, and the ability of the patient to change these (position, medications, etc).”

“The scales used are well validated and used on postoperative and chronic pain, however, the pain in the (emergency department) differs from such pain because it is of unknown origin and severity,” Djarv said. The scales may need to be retested and validated in the emergency department, she said.

Patients should be honest with their ratings, she added. “If the rating does not make sense to you, speak up and ask the personnel,” Djarv said. “Do not guess how to do it.”

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