OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to evaluate pain management practices in the emergency departments (EDs) in Turkey and to evaluate the prevalence and etiologies of oligoanalgesia to identify possible improvement strategies.
METHODS: This multicenter cross-sectional observational study was conducted in 10 tertiary care hospitals in Turkey. Patients who were admitted to the ED with pain chief complaints were included in the study. Both patients and physicians were surveyed with two separate forms by the research associates, respectively. The patient survey collected data about the pain and the interventions from the patients' perspective. The pain was evaluated using the Numerical Rating Scale. The physician survey collected data to assess the differences between study centers on pain management strategies and physician attitudes in pain management.
RESULTS: Ten emergency physicians and 740 patients (male/female: 365/375) enrolled in the study. The median pain score at admission at both triage and ED was 7 (interquartile range: 5-8). The most frequent type of pain at admission was headache (n = 184, 24.7%). The most common analgesics ordered by physicians were nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (n = 505, 67.9%), and the most frequent route of administration was intramuscular injection (n = 396, 53.2%). About half of the patients (n = 366, 49.2%) received analgesics 10-30 min from ED admission. The posttreatment median pain score decreased to 3 (P < 0.001). About 79.2% of patients did not need a second analgesic administration (n = 589), and opioid analgesics were the most frequently administered analgesic if the second application was required. Physicians prescribed an analgesic at discharge from the ED in 55.6% of the patients (n = 414) and acute pain was present in 7.5% (n = 56) of the patients.
CONCLUSION: Our study on the pain management practices in the EDs in Turkey suggested that high rate of intramuscular analgesic use and long emergency room stay durations are issues that should constitute the focus of our quality improvement efforts in pain management.