Evaluation of the intensity and management of pain before arrival in hospital among patients with suspected hip fractures

Int Emerg Nurs. 2020 Mar;49:100825. doi: 10.1016/j.ienj.2019.100825. Epub 2020 Feb 3.


Background: Pain management needs to be comprehensively investigated in patients with hip fractures, as it represents a fast-growing challenge to emergency care. The purpose of this study was to describe reported pain in patients with suspected hip fractures in a prehospital setting.

Methods: In this observational study, 1,426 patients with a suspected hip fracture were included. Dynamic and static pain were assessed on the arrival of the emergency medical services (EMS) and on hospital admission using the Numerical Rating Scale (NRS), if feasible, and the Behaviour Rating Scale (BRS), if not.

Results: On EMS arrival, the median dynamic NRS pain score was eight and 84% of the patients had severe or moderate dynamic pain according to the BRS. On admission to hospital, the median dynamic NRS pain score was reduced to five and 45% of the patients had reduced dynamic pain according to the BRS. Among all patients, the NRS was judged to be feasible and was therefore used in 36%. Furthermore, there was an association between the decrease in pain and the increase in the number of administered medications, as well as the duration of prehospital care.

Conclusions: Patients with suspected hip fractures suffered substantial pain on EMS arrival. Only half experienced a reduction in pain on hospital admission and only 75% received pain-relieving medication.

Keywords: Analgesia; Emergency medical services; Hip fracture; Pain; Pain management; Pain measurement.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Hip Fractures / nursing*
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nursing Assessment*
  • Pain Management / nursing*
  • Pain Measurement*
  • Prospective Studies