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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. bijur@aecom.yu.edu


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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