Quality Improvement Project: Replacing the Numeric Rating Scale with a Clinically Aligned Pain Assessment (CAPA) Tool

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CAPA is a multifaceted pain assessment tool that was adopted at a large tertiary Midwest hospital to replace the numeric scale for adult patients who could self-report their pain experience. This article describes the process of implementation and the effect on patient satisfaction scores. Use of the tool is supported by the premise that pain assessment entails more than just pain intensity and that assessment is an exchange of meaning between patients and clinicians dependent on internal and external factors. Implementation of the tool was a transformative process resulting in modest increases in patient satisfaction scores with pain management. Patient reports that “staff did everything to manage pain” had the biggest gains and were sustained for more than 2 years. The CAPA tool meets regulatory requirements for pain assessment.

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