Acute pain management for the preregistration house officer
Don't switch off if you are not at this stage yet. Medical students often spend the most time with patients so may be the first to know if a patient is suffering from pain. Oliver Jones summarises how you should manage a patient who is in acute pain
- By: Oliver Jones
One of the common scenarios facing a newly qualified doctor is the call to the ward or to an accident and emergency department because a patient is in pain. Although every medical student can name a great range of analgesics, approaching the problem in a rational way can be quite daunting. This article provides a background to the management of pain, which is an issue of great concern to the patient but often relatively neglected by medical staff.
Although a prescription for an analgesic may seem like the inevitable outcome of the consultation, a history and examination must be the starting point. This allows you to gauge the level of pain and the effectiveness of measures already taken. Analgesic drugs relieve pain of any cause. However, it is better to treat some painful syndromes with other specific drugs which are not strictly analgesics (see table).
If you still decide that