Friday, July 14, 2006

APS - Pain: The Fifth Vital Sign

Vital Signs are taken seriously. If pain were assessed with the same zeal as other vital signs are, it would have a much better chance of being treated properly. We need to train doctors and nurses to treat pain as a vital sign. Quality care means that pain is measured and treated.

Five Things You can Do To Improve Pain Assesment and Treatment

  • Consider pain the fifth vital sign and assess patients for pain every time you check for pulse, blood pressure, core temperature, and respiration.
  • Urge your colleagues to take their patients' complaints of pain seriously. Remind them not to put patients in the position of asking for a favor when they want pain relief.
  • Inform patients that they deserve to have their pain evaluated and treated.
  • Work to implement the APS Quality Improvement Guidelines for the Treatement of Acute Pain and Cancer Pain in your own practice setting. (JAMA, 274, 1874-1880)
  • Wear your Fifth Vital SignTM button and make opportunities to explain the importance of pain evaluation and treatment to other healthcare professionals and to the public.

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