Author(s): Rawal N, Allvin R
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Abstract A 17-nation survey was undertaken with the aim of studying the availability of acute pain services (APS) and the use of newer analgesic techniques, such as epidural and patient-controlled analgesia (PCA). A questionnaire was mailed to selected anaesthesiologists in 105 European hospitals from 17 countries. Depending on the population, between five and ten representative hospitals from each country were selected by a country coordinator. A total of 101 (96.2\%) completed questionnaires were returned. A majority of respondents were dissatisfied with pain management on surgical wards. Pain management was better in post-anaesthesia care units (PACUs); however, 27\% of participating hospitals did not have PACUs. There were no organized APS in 64\% of hospitals, although anaesthesiologists from chronic pain centres were available for consultation. In the hospitals that had APS, the responsible person for the APS was either: (1) a junior anaesthesiologist (senior anaesthesiologist available for consultation); or (2) a specially trained nurse (supervised by consultant anaesthesiologists). Many anaesthesiologists were unable to introduce techniques such as PCA on wards because of the high equipment costs. Although 40\% of hospitals used a visual analogue scale (VAS) or other methods for assessment of pain intensity, routine pain assessment and documenting on a vital sign chart was rarely practised. There was a great variation in routines for opioid prescription and documentation procedures. Nursing regulations regarding injection of drugs into epidural and intrathecal catheters also varied considerably between countries. This survey of 105 hospitals from 17 European countries showed that over 50\% of anaesthesiologists were dissatisfied with post-operative pain management on surgical wards. Only 34\% of hospitals had an organized APS, and very few hospitals used quality assurance measures such as frequent pain assessment and documentation. There is a need to establish organized APS in most hospitals and also a need for clearer definition of the role of anaesthesiologists in such APS.
This article was published in Eur J Anaesthesiol
and referenced in Journal of Anesthesia & Clinical Research