BACKGROUND: Pain in critically ill patients is undertreated. OBJECTIVES: To examine patients' perceptions of pain and acute pain management practices in a large metropolitan area to provide direction for improvements in pain relief. METHODS: In a descriptive, correlational study, data were collected from 213 patients in 13 hospitals. Interviews with patients, chart reviews, and interviews with nurse leaders were used to examine institutional and individual approaches to pain management. RESULTS: Twenty-eight percent of patients did not recall an explanation of a pain management plan, and 64% were often in moderate to severe pain while in the intensive care unit. High pain intensity correlated with wait for an analgesic (P < .001), expectations of less pain (P < .001), and longer stay in the intensive care unit (P < .001). Low satisfaction correlated with expectations of less pain (P < .001), often being in moderate to severe pain (P < .001), and long wait for an analgesic (P < .001). In the first 24 hours postoperatively, only 54% of patients had a numerical pain rating documented; 91% had a pain description. The amount of opioid given on postoperative day 1 was influenced by pain intensity (P < .001), the patient's age (P = .03), type of surgery (P = .002), and route of analgesic (P < .001). Only 33% of patients had nonpharmacological pain interventions documented. CONCLUSIONS: Despite moderate to severe pain, patients are generally satisfied with their pain relief. Measuring patients' satisfaction alone is not a reliable outcome for determining the effectiveness of pain management. Realistic expectations of patients about their pain may enhance coping, increase satisfaction, and decrease pain intensity after surgery.
OBJECTIVE: To determine the physiologic effects of a bedbath on critically ill patients. METHODS: Thirty hemodynamically stable coronary artery bypass graft patients were studied less than 24 hours after surgery in a repeated measures, quasi-experimental design. Study sites were the medical/surgical and coronary intensive care units of a large community hospital in the south-central United States. Two bedbaths consisting of bathing and turning phases were given to subjects early (mean, 3.6 hours) and late (mean, 18.5 hours) in the immediate postoperative period. Mixed venous oxygen saturation (Svo2) and heart rate were recorded at 1-minute intervals before, during, and for 5 minutes after each bedbath. RESULTS: Mean Svo2 decreased from baseline during the bathing phase of early and late bedbaths 1.6% and 1.9%, respectively, whereas mean heart rate increased from baseline 3.2% and 1%, respectively. During the turning phase, mean Svo2 decreased from baseline 9.2% and 12.1%, respectively, whereas mean heart rate increased from baseline 5.2% and 1.8%, respectively. Svo2 declined to less than 53% in 10 (33%) subjects during both early and late bedbaths. The most severe decreases in Svo2 occurred during early bedbaths and were usually associated with coughing, shivering, and/or agitation. CONCLUSIONS: Early bedbaths caused more dramatic declines in Svo2 than late bedbaths. Coughing, shivering, and agitation accentuated Svo2 declines and could be prevented by waiting to bathe coronary artery bypass graft patients until 1 day postoperatively. Routine bathing, at least in the early postoperative period, should be reconsidered.