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Assessing Pain Control in Nonverbal Critically Ill Adults

Odhner, Margaret RN, BSN, CCRN; Wegman, Deborah RN, BSN; Freeland, Nancy RN, MS, CCRN; Steinmetz, Ann RN, BSN; Ingersoll, Gail L. EdD, RN, FAAN

Dimensions of Critical Care Nursing:

The accurate assessment of pain in nonverbal patients is difficult, with nurses often relying on a variety of methods to determine medication impact. Much of the evidence to date suggests that commonly used indicators of pain may not effectively measure the true extent of distress in patients unable to verbalize their level of discomfort. A recent pilot study of an existing and newly developed pain assessment scale reinforces this concern.

Author Information


Margaret Odhner, RN, BSN, CCRN, is a Nurse Leader in the Burn Trauma Unit at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New York, where Deborah Wegman, RN, BSN, is a Level III Staff Nurse, Nancy Freeland, RN, MS, CCRN, is the Nurse Manager, and Ann Steinmetz, RN, BSN, is a Level II Staff Nurse. Gail L. Ingersoll, EdD, RN, FAAN, FNAP, is the Director of Clinical Nursing Research at Strong Memorial Hospital and Professor of Nursing at the University of Rochester School of Nursing, Rochester, New York.

Address correspondence to: Gail L. Ingersoll, EdD, RN, FAAN, FNAP, Box 619-7, 601 Elmwood Ave, Rochester, NY 14642 (

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.