Nurse-initiated analgesia pathway for paediatric patients in the emergency department: a clinical intervention trial

Emerg Med Australas. 2013 Aug;25(4):316-23. doi: 10.1111/1742-6723.12103. Epub 2013 Jul 21.


Objective: The study aims to evaluate the impact of a nurse-initiated analgesia pathway (NIAP) intervention for paediatric patients in the ED.

Methods: We undertook a pre- and post-intervention trial in a large, tertiary referral, mixed ED. The intervention comprised development and implementation of a comprehensive NIA Standing Order. In addition to paracetamol, which nurses could initiate pre-intervention, they were authorised to administer ibuprofen, paracetamol/codeine combinations and topical local anaesthetics prior to a doctor assessing the patient. All nurses were trained and credentialed prior to administering the NIAP. Patients aged 5-17 years with a triage pain score of ≥4 (Wong-Baker or numerical rating scale) were eligible for enrolment. The primary outcome was time to analgesia. Secondary outcomes were the proportion of patients who received 'adequate analgesia' and parental satisfaction with ED pain management (measured 48 h post-discharge).

Results: Fifty-one children were enrolled in both the pre- and post-intervention periods. Patient sex and mean age, weight and triage pain score did not differ between the groups (P > 0.05). At post-intervention, significantly more patients received nurse-initiated analgesia (3.0% vs 43.9%; P < 0.001) and the median time to analgesia was significantly reduced (58 min vs 23 min; P < 0.01). Also, significantly more patients received 'adequate analgesia' post-intervention (41.2% vs 72.5%; P < 0.001). At follow up, the proportion of parents who were very satisfied with their child's overall pain management trended upwards in the post-intervention period (47.1% vs 66.7%; P = 0.07). No adverse events were observed during either period.

Conclusion: The NIAP significantly reduced time to analgesia. It was associated with high levels of parental satisfaction.

Keywords: emergency department; paediatrics; pain.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Analgesia / nursing*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Critical Pathways / organization & administration*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pain Management / nursing*
  • Parents / psychology
  • Patient Satisfaction