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Ann Emerg Med. 2012 Aug;60(2):207-11. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2012.05.033.

Geriatric patients may not experience increased risk of oligoanalgesia in the emergency department.

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Division of Emergency Medicine, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA.



The aim of this study is to compare the pain management practices in geriatric patients in the emergency department (ED) with that in other adult ED patients to determine whether these patients face increased risk of oligoanalgesia.


This study was a prospective analysis of a convenience sample of patients presenting to an urban academic tertiary care hospital ED from 2000 through 2010. We compared patients aged 65 years and older (geriatric) with adults younger than 65 years and evaluated analgesic administration rates, opioid administration and dosing, and pain and satisfaction scores (0 to 10 scale).


A total of 15,387 patients presented to the ED during the 10-year study period and agreed to participate in the study; 1,169 patients were geriatric (7.6%). Geriatric patients had a mean age of 75.0 years (SD 7.2 years), whereas mean age of the 14,218 nongeriatric patients was 35.5 years (SD 12.2 years). Geriatric patients reported less pain at presentation (6.2 versus 6.9). After adjusting for presentation pain scores, geriatric patients were not less likely to receive an analgesic during the ED visit (odds ratio 0.90; 95% confidence interval 0.78 to 1.05) or less likely to receive an opioid (odds ratio 1.01; 95% confidence interval 0.87 to 1.18). Geriatric patients, on average, received lower doses of morphine (3.3 versus 4.2 mg) and had longer waiting times for their initial dose of an analgesic medication (65 versus 75 minutes).


Despite longer wait times for analgesia, geriatric and nongeriatric patients were similar in rates of analgesia and opioid administration for pain-related complaints. These findings contrast with previous studies reporting lower rates of analgesia administration among geriatric patients.

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