Results of Implementing a Pain Management Algorithm in Intensive Care Unit Patients

Olsen, B.F. et al. Journal of Critical Care.Published online: 16 July 2016

Image shows artwork representing pain and disturbance

Purpose: To measure the impact of implementing a pain management algorithm in adult intensive care unit (ICU) patients able to express pain. No controlled study has previously evaluated the impact of a pain management algorithm both at rest and during procedures, including both patients able to self-report and express pain behavior, intubated and non-intubated patients, throughout their ICU stay.

Materials and methods: The algorithm instructed nurses to assess pain and guided in pain treatment, and was implemented in three units. A time period after implementing the algorithm (intervention group) was compared with a time period the previous year (control group) on the outcome variables pain assessments, duration of ventilation, length of ICU stay, length of hospital stay, use of analgesic and sedative medications, and the incidence of agitation events.

Results: Totally 650 patients were included. The number of pain assessments was higher in the intervention group compared with the control group. Additionally, duration of ventilation and length of ICU stay decreased significantly in the intervention group compared with the control group. This difference remained significant after adjusting for patient characteristics.

Conclusion: Several outcome variables were significantly improved after implementation of the algorithm compared with the control period.

Read the abstract here

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