Patient-Reported Pain Outcomes for Children Attending an Emergency Department With Limb Injury

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The aim of this study was to describe patient-reported pain outcomes at various stages of an emergency department (ED) visit for pediatric limb injury.


This prospective cohort consisted of 905 patients aged 4 to 17 years with acute limb injury and a minimum initial pain score of 4/10. Patients reported pain scores and treatments offered and received at each stage of their ED visit. Multiple logistic regression was used to identify predictors for severe pain on initial assessment and moderate or severe pain at ED discharge.


The initial median pain score was 6/10 (interquartile range, 4–6) and decreased at discharge to 4/10 (interquartile range, 2–6). Stages of the ED visit where the highest proportion of patients reported severe pain (score, ≥8 of 10) were fracture reduction (26.0% [19/73]; 95% confidence interval [CI], 17.1%–37.5%), intravenous insertion (24.4% [11/45]; 95% CI, 13.8%–39.6%), and x-ray (23.7% [158/668]; 95% CI, 20.6%–27.0%). Predictors of severe pain at initial assessment included younger age (odds ratio [OR], 0.92; 95% CI, 0.87–0.97), female sex (OR, 0.58; 95% CI, 0.40–0.84), and presence of fracture (OR, 1.58; 95% CI, 1.07–2.33) whereas, at discharge, older age (OR, 1.14; 95% CI, 1.06–1.23) predicted moderate/severe pain (score, ≥4 of 10).


These results on the location and predictors of severe pain during an ED visit for limb injury can be used to target interventions to improve pain management and patient outcomes.

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