Minimal Use of Opioids for Pain Relief in an Internal Medicine Department.
South Med J. 2018 May;111(5):288-292
Authors: Shimoni Z, Varon D, Froom P
OBJECTIVES: The objective of the study was to determine if pain control was adequate despite our policy of limited opioid use.
METHODS: In this observational cohort study, we reviewed 300 consecutive patient charts from an internal medicine department. We extracted demographic data, as well as the patients' primary diagnosis, pain on admission, daily pain evaluations (numerical rating score [NRS]), and treatment. Significant pain was defined as a score of ≥3 on the NRS. We determined the incidence of pain and pain control and reviewed the charts of those with an NRS ≥3 for ≥3 days to determine the need for opioid therapy.
RESULTS: Of 1692 total hospitalization days in the 300 consecutive patients with a median age of 80 years (1st-3rd quartiles, 65-87 years) there were 204 days with complaints of pain (12.1%) and 149 days (8.8%) with reports of pain of ≥3 on the NRS. Overall, 28.3% (85 of 300) of the patients had significant pain during their hospitalization. Most of the pain, however, (80.0%, 68 of 85) was short-term (1-2 days) whether or not the patient received pain medication. Pain relief treatment in the hospital included opioids in 17 (5.7%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 3.5-8.9) and dipyrone in 36 (12%, 95% CI 8.8-16) of the 300 patients. Pain control was adequate in the seven patients with prolonged pain who did not receive opioids. There were only two patients discharged with prescriptions for opioids (0.7%, 95% CI 0.2-2.6).
CONCLUSIONS: Significant pain is common in patients hospitalized in an internal medicine department, but the pain is mostly short term and pain control is adequate despite the restricted use of opioid therapy during hospitalization.
PMID: 29767221 [PubMed - in process]