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Nursing issues
Pain assessments in emergency departments lack consistency and validity, and this impacts effective pain management
  1. Lisa Wehner
  1. Hartwick College, Oneonta, New York, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Lisa Wehner, Hartwick College, Oneonta, NY 13820, USA; wehnerl{at}

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Commentary on: Sampson FC, Goodacre SW, O’Cathain A. The reality of pain scoring in the emergency department: findings from a multiple case study design. Ann Emerg Med 2019:1–11.

Implications for practice and research

  • It is imperative that a systematic pain assessment tool is used consistently for healthcare practitioners to transform patient pain assessment data into clinical action.

  • Further research needs to address the effectiveness of a systematic approach to pain assessment and evaluation of this assessment to achieve effective pain management.


Pain scales or tools are a fast, measurable method to objectify the subjective perception of pain. In the emergency department (ED), pain assessments are used for patient triage and assessment for all patients. While routine use of these tools have been shown to improve pain management,1 there is conflicting data …

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.