Pain is difficult to assess in noncommunicative patients who are being treated with mechanical ventilation or are sedated and unable to report pain. Use of a valid and reliable tool to assist health care providers in the management of pain in critically ill, sedated, and non-communicative patients is paramount. Arif Rahu and colleagues evaluated the validity and sensitivity of 6 pain scales to identify the most appropriate measure of pain in noncommunicative patients (ie, those who were mechanically ventilated and sedated). They found the following:
All pain scales had moderate to high correlations with the patient’s self-report during suctioning.
All scales were sensitive in capturing the patient’s pain response in all phases.
Both subjects and investigators rated pain higher on FACES scale.
Caregivers must be cautious in using the FACES scale because subjectivity may lead to over- or undertreating pain.
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