Pain is the most common reason people visit emergency rooms. Pain does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race or age. The state of pain management in the emergency department (ED) is disturbing. ED physicians often do not provide adequate analgesia to their patients, do not meet patients' expectations in treating their pain, and struggle to change their practice regarding analgesia. A review of multiple publications has identified the following causes of poor management of painful conditions in the ED: failure to acknowledge pain, failure to assess initial pain, failure to have pain management guidelines in ED, failure to document pain and to assess treatment adequacy, and failure to meet patient's expectations. The barriers that preclude emergency physicians from proper pain management include ethnic and racial bias, gender bias, age bias, inadequate knowledge and formal training in acute pain management, opiophobia, the ED, and the ED culture. ED physicians must realize that pain is a true emergency and treat it as such.
Keywords: emergency department; oligoanalgesia; pain management.