The purpose of this study was to document analgesic use for limb and clavicle injuries in the pediatric emergency department (ED) and to determine whether a physician-oriented pain scale form on the patient's chart would enhance the administration of analgesia. Patients 3 to 18 years old were recruited prospectively in our tertiary pediatric ED in Toronto. The study included 4 crossover periods, 2 with the pain scale form on the patient's chart and 2 without. A total of 310 patients were recruited, mean age was 10 years, 64% were boys, and 62% had sustained fractures. The mean pain score was 4.4. Only 90 (29%) patients received an analgesic in the ED, and 65 (72%) of them were ordered by a physician. Only 24 (20%) in the study group and 22 (14%) in the control group received sufficient analgesia (P = .13). The median time to physician-initiated analgesia after arrival was 2.0 hours (1.0 to 3.3 hours), without a significant difference between groups. Pain control was 4-fold more appropriate in children receiving opioids versus nonopioids. Physician pain reminders did not enhance, and other measures should be taken to increase the dispensing of analgesia.
Perspective: This is the first study to evaluate whether the addition of a physician-oriented pain-scale form on the chart of patients with injuries improves administration of analgesia in the ED. We found that physicians do not give sufficient analgesia even with this reminder form.