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J Pain. 2006 Jun;7(6):438-44.

Lack of influence of patient self-report of pain intensity on administration of opioids for suspected long-bone fractures.

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  • 1Department of Emergency Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York 10461, USA.


The purpose of the present study was to prospectively investigate the extent to which emergency providers base their decisions about pain management of suspected long-bone fracture on patient's self-reported pain intensity. Of 100 long-bone fracture patients presenting to 2 inner-city emergency departments, 69% received opioids as compared to 30% of 110 patients without long-bone fracture (RR = 2.3; 95% CI 1.6 to 3.1). After stratification by pain ratings on a validated self-reported numerical rating scale, fracture patients remained twice as likely to receive opioids as those without fracture (RR = 2.0; 95% CI 1.5 to 2.7). Similarly, multivariate adjustment for self-reported pain intensity had little effect on the observed association (RR = 2.1; 95% CI 1.6 to 2.8). We conclude that emergency providers do not primarily base their decisions about pain management of suspected long-bone fractures on patient self-reporting of pain intensity.


This article addresses the question of the role of self-reported pain intensity rating on the treatment of suspected fractures. The findings indicate that self-reported pain is not used as the most important measure of pain as recommended by expert panels. We speculate this may contribute to oligoanalgesia in the Emergency Department.

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