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Infrequent Assessment of Pain in Elderly Trauma Patients

Spilman, Sarah K. MA; Baumhover, Lisa A. MS, ARNP, GCNS-BC; Lillegraven, Cheryl L. MSN, ARNP, ACNS-BC; Lederhaas, George MD; Sahr, Sheryl M. MD, MS, FACS; Schirmer, Lori L. PharmD, BCPS, BCNSP; Smoot, Dustin L. MD, FACS; Swegle, James R. MD, FACS

doi: 10.1097/JTN.0000000000000070

There are inherent difficulties in assessing and managing pain in elderly trauma patients, especially those with chronic health conditions or diminished capacities for self-reporting pain. This retrospective study identifies and describes patterns of pain assessment for a trauma population of older adults (age ≥65 years). Gaps between patient assessments existed in all phases of hospitalization and did not meet hospital guidelines for frequency of assessment. In addition, assessment methods were not always appropriate for the patient population. We conclude that older patients were not assessed for pain frequently enough, and that more regular and routine pain assessments may improve patient outcomes.

UnityPoint Health Des Moines (Ms. Spilman, Ms. Baumhover, Ms. Lillegraven, Dr Lederhaas, Dr Sahr, Dr Smoot, and Dr Swegle), Des Moines, Iowa; and Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center (Dr Schirmer), Knoxville, Tennessee.

Correspondence: Sarah K. Spilman, MA, Trauma Services, UnityPoint Health Des Moines, 1200 Pleasant St, Des Moines, IA 50309 (

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Copyright © 2014 by the Society of Trauma Nurses.