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Anaesthesia. 1996 Dec;51(12):1093-6.

Audit of postoperative pain control. Influence of a dedicated acute pain nurse.

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  • 1Department of Anaesthetics, Freeman Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne.


The inadequacies of conventional intramuscular opioid analgesia have fueled an expansion in the use of patient-controlled analgesia and epidural analgesia after surgery. This is not always accompanied by increased education and specialist supervision of ward staff and patients. A survey in our hospital prior to the appointment of an Acute Pain Nurse showed an unacceptable incidence of side effects when epidural analgesia was employed on ordinary surgical wards. More surprisingly, efficacy of patient-controlled analgesia was found to be low. Frequent review of patients and regular education of ward staff by a specialist Pain Nurse have achieved a substantial reduction in side effects of epidural analgesia and improvement in efficacy of patient-controlled analgesia. We have shown that the advantages of patient-controlled analgesia can be largely negated by failure to address deficiencies in knowledge of pain management among ward staff and patients.

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