I have been procrastinating on approaching this topic. I will start off by reviewing a study that assesses pain management before and after continued education. The results are pretty interesting. I know this a subject of particular interest to Rogue Medic, so don't be surprised if he chimes in with some added
opinionated criticism information.
INTRODUCTION: Pain is a common symptom evaluated by emergency medical services (EMS) providers. Hospital pain management programs began in the early 1990s based on a multidisciplinary approach and principles of total quality improvement. To date, these programs have had limited exposure in the prehospital setting. OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the effects of a pain management educational intervention (EI) for paramedic caregivers. METHODS: All ambulance providers from ten urban and suburban fire departments and two private ambulance companies participated in a three-hour EI during a quality improvement project. A survey was performed prior to the EI and repeated one month after the EI. A two-month collection of EMS runs for pain complaints was performed prior to the EI and repeated one month after the EI. Data analysis was performed using descriptive statistics and chi-square tests. RESULTS: The authors reviewed 397 surveys and 439 EMS runs for pain. Overall, after the EI, paramedics' knowledge of basic pain management principles increased from 57.3% to 74.9% (17.5%; 95% confidence interval (CI): 14.9%-20.2%;) paramedics' utilization of nonpharmacologic pain therapies improved by 32.2% (95% CI: 25.3%-39.2%; p), but there was no significant change in the use of pain medication (20.2% to 24.5%). There were 51.0% (95% CI: 44.1%-57.9%; p) improvement in documentation of pain severity, 24% (95% CI: 21.2%-26.8%;) improvement in documentation of pain characteristics, and 13% (95% CI: 7.4%-18.7%;)improvement in pain reassessment following intervention. CONCLUSION: As a result of a three-hour educational intervention, paramedics had an increased understanding of pain principles, were more likely to provide prehospital nonpharmacologic pain therapy, and were more likely to document the results of their interventions.Well at least they provided pain therapy. Pain is the most common reason people seek healthcare, and prehospital care providers are generally lacking in pain management skills. It is reassuring to see studies like this.