A qualitative analysis of the nursing documentation of post-operative pain management

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SummaryAs part of a trust-wide practice development project to improve post-operative pain management, a descriptive study was conducted in the orthopaedic directorate of a large teaching hospital in the north of England.Sixty-five patients were included in this prospective study.Patients were interviewed post-operatively about their pain experience, and present and worst pain scores were recorded.The nursing documentation relating to pain management was also transcribed and a content analysis of this nursing documentation is reported.Findings indicate that individual assessment of pain was poorly documented and that the nurses' record of the patient's post-operative pain experience differed from the patient report.Reliance on pharmacological methods of pain relief was evident and interventions to help patients cope with night time pain were rarely documented.The results are discussed in light of a theoretical framework for acute pain management and current research.Implications for practice are discussed and areas for further research are suggested.

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