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Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2001 Nov;57(9):685-9.

Treatment of acute renal colic in a French emergency department: a comparison of simulated cases and real cases in acute pain assessment and management.

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Centre Midi-Pyrénées de Pharmacovigilance, de Pharmacoépidémiologie et d'Informations sur le Médicament, University Hospital, Faculty of Medicine, Toulouse, France.



Use of analgesic drugs in acute renal colic varies widely in different countries. In order to assess the prescribing patterns in acute renal colic in French emergency departments (EDs), the present study compared intentions of prescription, real prescription and evidence-based data in a sample of emergency practitioners.


A sample of 51 emergency practitioners (27 medical doctors and 24 residents) randomly selected in nine EDs in the southwest of France participated in this observational study. In a first step (January 2000), participants were asked about a simulated case of acute renal colic. In a second step, real prescriptions for the same indication were retrospectively identified and collected among hospital medical databases during a period of 6 months (July-December 1999).


In simulated cases, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) were prescribed in 100% of cases, in addition to propacetamol (70%), antispasmodic drugs (53%) and opiate analgesics (100%). Daily dose of these drugs was underestimated in approximately 30% of cases. In real prescription, there was no significant difference in the use of NSAIDs, propacetamol and anti-spasmodic drugs. However, daily doses were more frequently underestimated, and opiate analgesics were less prescribed. Several points could explain these discrepancies: lack of knowledge about pharmacological properties, inadequate daily review of drug intake, underutilisation of opiates and insufficient clinical evaluation of pain in several centres.


These results show a clear difference between intention to treat and real prescriptions for patients suffering from acute renal colic.

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