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Toward Better Pain Management: The Development of a "Pain Stewardship Program" in a Tertiary Children’s Hospital

Journal title
Hospital pediatrics
Publication year
Brenn, B. R.; Choudhry, D. K.; Sacks, K.; Como-Fluehr, S.; Strain, R.

OBJECTIVE: Despite increased focus on pediatric pain, uncontrolled pain is still a problem for hospitalized pediatric inpatients. A program was designed to find patients with uncontrolled pain and develop a framework to oversee their pain management. This report details the development of a pain stewardship program with data from the first year of its activity. METHODS: Hospitalized inpatients in a tertiary care pediatric center in the mid-Atlantic region were included in the study. Pain scores are recorded every 4 hours in the hospital electronic health record. A report was constructed to find all patients with an average pain score >/=7 in the preceding 12 hours. The charts of these patients were reviewed by our anesthesia pain service, and all patients were grouped into 1 of the following action categories: (1) no action required; (2) telephone call to the patient’s attending physician; (3) one-time consultation; (4) consultation with ongoing management; or (5) patient was already on the anesthesia pain service. Demographic data, pain regimens, and outcomes were recorded in a prospectively collected database. RESULTS: There were 843 records on 441 unique patients. Only 22% required action to be taken by the anesthesia pain service. The pain stewardship database revealed that patients with sickle cell disease or abdominal pain required more frequent attention. CONCLUSIONS: An electronic health record-based pain stewardship program is an important step in identifying all children in the hospital with undermanaged pain, and it provides a warning system that may improve patient care, outcomes, and satisfaction.

Research abstracts