I am going to compare and contrast 3 pain assessment tools, which would be appropriate for use in our clinical area, using current literature, benchmarks and practice guidelines. If pain is what the person tell he is (McCaffery M, Pasero, 1999) therefore pain assessment tools should be based on the patient’s own perception of their pain and its severity. But sometimes it's difficult to express the pain that we feel into words. Pain assessment tools have two main categories: multi-dimensional and uni-dimensional. I am going to only discuss on unidimentional because multi-dimensional tool is complex and time consuming you rarely find them to be use in assessing post-operative pain, for example, the McGill Pain Questionnaire (Coll et al 2004, Mackintosh 2005). The most commonly pain assessment tools in my workplace (Perioperative) are visual analogue (VAS), verbal pain scale (VPS) and Wong baker’s face pain rating scale. They are uni-dimensional, focusing specifically on one or two aspects of pain, most frequently the intensity of pain and occasionally the location of pain through the use of a body diagram, which enables the patient to mark where the pain is on an outline body diagram. (Coll et al, 2004).
Visual Analogue Scale
With this pain assessment you would ask the patient to describe their pain using a verbal or written list of descriptors on a scale from ‘no pain’ to ‘the worst possible (or imaginable) pain’. This could also be done by simply be asking the patient to rate their pain from mild, moderate to severe.
The patient rates the severity of their pain on a scale of 0 to 10, based on the corresponding numerical equivalent of pain. This simple pain measurement tool is particularly useful for monitoring patient postoperatively because you are able to reassess pain that is expected to diminish over a period of time.
A Verbal Pain Scale
With a verbal scale, you can ask your patient to describe the degree of their discomfort by choosing one...
References: McCaffery M, Pasero C, 1999: Pain: Clinical manual, pp. 68-73,Mosby, Inc.
Mackintosh C, 2007 Assessment and management of patients with post-operative pain
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Noble B, et al., 2005 The measurement of pain: Journal of Pain Symptom Management
Wong D.L., Hockenberry-Eaton M., Wilson D., Winkelstein M.L., Schwartz P, 2001 Wong 's Essentials of Pediatric Nursing, ed
McCaffery, RN, MS, FAAN and Chris Pasero, RN MSNc, 1999 Pain Clinical Manual, 2nd Edition, Mosby, Inc.
Sloman R.et al, 2005 Nurses’ assessment of pain in surgical patients. Journal of Advanced Nursing. 52, 2, 125-132.
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