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Paediatr Anaesth. 2012 Jul;22(7):661-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9592.2012.03807.x. Epub 2012 Feb 15.

Prevalence of moderate-severe pain in hospitalized children.

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Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, Seattle Children's Hospital, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.



  Acute pain management in children is often inadequate. The prevalence of pain in hospitalized children in the US is unknown.


  We reviewed clinical characteristics of all pediatric patients admitted to Mayo Eugenio Litta Children's hospital during July 2009. Patients with moderate-severe pain were identified. For patients identified as having moderate-severe pain risk factors, analgesia regimens, and pain outcomes were reviewed.


  The prevalence of moderate-severe in-hospital pain was 27% (95% C.I. 23% to 32%). Teenagers and infants experienced higher prevalence rates of moderate-severe pain (38% and 32% respectively) than children (17%, P < 0.001). In addition, patients admitted to medical services had much lower rates of moderate-severe pain (13%) than those admitted to surgical services (44%, P < 0.001). Regional anesthesia was used in eleven (7.2%) of the patients on surgical services. Acetaminophen was administered to 75% of patients with moderate-severe pain. Only 21% of these patients had nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) available. Opioids were given scheduled to 36% of patients with moderate-severe pain and as needed to another 40%. Fifty-five percent of patients still had one or more episode of moderate-severe pain on the day following an initial diagnosis; however, this number decreased steadily over subsequent days. Eleven patients (13% of those diagnosed with moderate-severe pain) still had one or more episodes of daily moderate-severe pain by day four.


  The prevalence of moderate-severe pain in hospitalized children remains high. Analgesia regimens may not be optimal. Underutilization of regional anesthesia techniques may have contributed to increased pain scores. A large proportion of children diagnosed with moderate-severe pain may have persistent clinically significant pain in subsequent days.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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