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No Pain in Hospital - Wishful Thinking or Reality

Author: Deutsches Aerzteblatt International

Original Publication Date: 2010-09-21

Synopsis and Key Points:

More than 80% of hospitalized patients suffer more severe pain than necessary.

Main Digest

More than 80% of hospitalized patients suffer more severe pain than necessary.

This is the conclusion of Christoph Maier (Bochum University Hospital, Bochum, Germany) and his coauthors in their interim report of the Pain-Free Hospital Project ("Schmerzfreies Krankenhaus"), which appears in the current issue of Deutsches Arzteblatt International (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2010; 107[36]: 607-14). The project, which was initiated in 2003, has the goal of improving pain management in hospitals across Germany.

To study the quality of pain therapy, the authors evaluated anonymous questionnaires filled out by approximately 2250 surgical patients and nearly 1000 non-surgical patients from 25 German hospitals. In the period 2004 to 2006, the study participants were interviewed about the intensity of their pain and the effectiveness of pain therapy.

Approximately one-third of both the surgical and the non-surgical patients complained of moderate to severe pain at rest, while more than half of each group complained of moderate to severe movement-related pain. All in all, 56% of the participating patients had pain that they described as unbearable. More than 55% of the persons questioned considered their pain therapy in the hospital to have been unsatisfactory.

The authors believe these results indicate a clear need for improvement in pain therapy in German hospitals. In a small number of hospitals, exemplary efforts in this direction are already underway, demonstrating that effective pain therapy is indeed possible for both surgical and non-surgical patients.

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