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Objectives: To observe the method of pain assessment and pain management intervention performed by nurses in the PACU.
Methods and Design: A QI prospective observational study was conducted to observe nurse’s pain assessment and management of thirty (30) patients from the time of PACU admission to discharge. The sample size was determined using the sealed envelope power calculator.
Data Collection Included: patients demographics, the method and frequency of pain assessments as well as modalities of the pain intervention and the type and average dose of pain medications administered by PACU nurses.
Data analysis was done using Microsoft excel.
Results: No validated pain assessment tool was used in the PACU. The majority of patients 67%, n=20) had no pain assessments or pain interventions. When performed, the frequency of pain assessments recorded were low, 70% of patients had 1-2 assessments. The principal pain management intervention was pharmacological with the use of opioids, accounting for 96%.
Conclusion: Post-operative pain management in the PACU at GPHC does not meet accepted standards of care. More frequent nursing pain assessment using a validated pain assessment tool is required. Monotherapy with the opioid was the main pain intervention for pain management.
Recommendations: Effective pain management begins with the appropriate pain assessment; therefore pain management education programs for health care professionals are essential. Also, the implementation of a standardized pain assessment tool, a standardized post anesthetic order sheet with a multimodal approach to pain management and restructuring the post-anesthetic record to allow for documentation of pain assessment will greatly improve pain management in the PACU.