Effects of Preoperative Teaching of the Use of a Pain Scale with Patients in the PACU


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Abstract

Clinical observations have shown that patients arriving in the PACU who had no experience using a pain scale had more difficulty rating their pain in the immediate postoperative period. The purpose of this pilot study was to determine if preoperative instruction on the use of a pain scale would improve the patient's ability to self-report pain in the Phase I PACU. The sample consisted of 50 English speaking, orthopedic patients between the ages of 19 and 75 years. A visual numerical rating scale (NRS) for pain was used to teach patients in the holding area. Twenty-six of these patients had previous experience with the NRS and 24 had no experience. Of those with experience, 21 (80%) could use the pain scale in the PACU. Of the 24 patients who were taught in the holding area, 20 (85%) could use the pain scale to rate their pain in the PACU. The results of this study suggest that if patients have previous experience with a pain scale, or if they are taught preoperatively, they can more effectively self-report pain postoperatively. Future studies should be conducted to involve a larger sample, a variety of surgeries, and non–English-speaking patients.

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