Quality of postoperative pain management in American versus European institutions.
Journal of Pain & Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy
Management of postoperative pain remains an important clinical problem throughout the world. Using the PAIN-OUT acute pain registry database to examine perioperative pain management in orthopedic surgery patients, we compared patient-reported outcomes (PROs) in a pooled sample obtained from four American hospitals (N = 473) with PROs in a pooled sample of 20 European institutions (N = 8799). Most American hospitals consistently assess acute pain in surgical patients due to Joint Commission accreditation guidelines.
Therefore, we hypothesized that this practice would create a climate of clinical staff sensitivity to patients' pain and a greater readiness to intervene when pain is higher than one would find in Europe as a whole.
American institutions might then provide better control of postoperative pain after orthopedic surgery than European institutions.
Because of the large sample sizes, our analyses focused on effect size rather than statistical significance. Evaluation of the pain PROs revealed that European patients reported much lower Worst Pain on the first day after orthopedic surgery than American patients. The mean Worst Pain (± SD) for Europeans was 5.4 (2.5) but for Americans the mean was 7.4 (2.7), p < .0001, a large effect size.
Europeans also reported significantly less emotional discomfort, less interference of pain with activity and lower Least Pain.
Nonetheless, 98.3% of American patients received opioids on the ward on the first postoperative day compared to 70.2% of European patients, and 41.1% received regional analgesia on the ward while 15.9% of European patients received regional analgesia (both small effect sizes).
Overall, the results are clear in demonstrating much better pain control in the ensemble of European countries as compared to the United States.
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