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Assessment of acute pain in trauma—A retrospective prehospital evaluation

Stine Hebsgaard, MD, Anne Mannering, MD, Stine T. Zwisler, MD, PhD


Objective: To elucidate pain treatment with analgesics in a prehospital trauma population.

Design: Retrospective database study.

Setting: Prehospital data from the anesthesiologist-manned Mobile Emergency Care Unit (MECU) in Odense, Denmark, were extracted and subjected to analysis.

Patients: During the period of January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2014, patients with the diagnoses “unspecified multiple injuries,” “examination and observation following traffic accident,” “examination and observation following other accident,” and “commotio cerebri” were included in the analysis.

Main Outcome Measures: Evaluation of the application of the pain scale Numeric Rating Scale (NRS). Furthermore, the authors performed a characterization of the patients with mild pain and severe pain according to specific parameters such as pharmacological interventions, opioid consumption, intubation, and others.

Results: Nine hundred eighty-five cases were analyzed. NRS was documented only in one case. In all, 787 patients experienced no pain or mild pain (no pain, n = 242; mild pain, n = 545) and 168 patients severe pain or worse (severe pain, n = 155; intolerable pain, n = 13). In the severe pain group, 138 were treated with opioid analgesics or S-ketamine, while no pharmacological intervention was documented in 30 cases. Eight of the 138 cases with severe pain needed endotracheal intubation, whereas nine cases in the patients with mild or no pain needed endotracheal intubation; odds ratio (OR) 4.3 (p = 0.003).

Conclusions: Effect was only documented in one patient after administering opioids in a patient with trauma population, where approximately 17 percent of patients experienced severe pain. Severe pain was correlated to male gender, respiratory intervention, opioid administration, and the diagnosis unspecified multiple injuries.


opioids, acute pain management, prehospital, trauma

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