Recent regulatory and legal scrutiny has raised concerns about the over-and undertreatment of pain in the hospital. This debate stems from either the overly aggressive approach to the management of pain with opioids or, alternatively, to the barriers preventing the appropriate prescribing of these medications. The media attention on diversion of controlled substances for illicit purposes has intensified this debate, highlighting the possible overuse of these medications in the treatment of nonmalignant pain. Because pain is a highly common presenting complaint in the ED, EPs are pivotal players in these controversies. Accordingly, they must apprise themselves of pain management skills and continue to help those in need of appropriate medications while thwarting inappropriate prescribing. This review offers a synopsis of the pitfalls associated with ED pain management and provides recommendations for selected conditions. © 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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