Pain management in the prehospital environment

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Pain measurement and relief is complex, and should be a priority for prehospital providers and supervisors. The available literature continues to prove that we are poor pain relievers, despite the high prevalence of pain in the out-of-hospital patient population. Lack of education and research, along with agent availability, controlled substance regulation, and many myths given credence by health care providers, hinder our ability to achieve adequate pain assessment and treatment in the prehospital setting. Protocols must be established to help guide providers through proper acknowledgment, measurement, and treatment for prehospital pain. Nonpharmacologic therapies must also be taught and reinforced as important adjuncts to pain management. Finally, formation of quality improvement pain programs that evaluate patient outcomes and provider practice patterns will help EMS systems understand the pain management process and provide areas for improvement. Only through emphasis on pain education, research, protocol, and program monitoring development will the quality of pain assessment and management in the prehospital setting improve. © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.




McManus, J. G., & Sallee, D. R. (2005). Pain management in the prehospital environment. Emergency Medicine Clinics of North America. W.B. Saunders.

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