When addressing pain management in critically ill patients do you consistently use a self-report scale for those patients who can communicate? How about using a behavioral pain assessment scale for patients who are nonverbal? Rose and colleagues asked this of 802 Canadian intensive care unit (ICU) nurses and found the following:

  • Most agreed that frequent assessment and documentation of pain was equally important for patients who could communicate and those who could not verbalize pain. However, only 33% of the nurses used a behavioral tool versus 89% who used a patient self-report pain tool.

  • Only 29% were aware of published guidelines by professional organizations on pain management in the critically ill patient.

Although most nurses indicated it was important to assess pain in all ICU patients, actual use of a pain tool for nonverbal patients was infrequent. This parallels the reported lack of...

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