Anesth Pain Med. 2016 Jan 18;6(1):e33434. doi: 10.5812/aapm.33434. eCollection 2016.
BACKGROUND: Critical-care patients are at higher risk of untreated pain, because they are often unable to communicate owing to altered mental status, tracheal intubation and sedation. OBJECTIVES: This study compared two pain assessment tools on tracheal intubated critically ill patients in a cardiac post-anesthesia care unit, who were unable to communicate verbally. The studied tools were "critical-care pain observation tool (CPOT)" and "facial expression (FE)". PATIENTS AND METHODS: This was a prospective study based on diagnostic test evaluation. A sample of 91 intubated patients was selected from cardiac post-anesthesia care unit. Collected data were demographic characteristics, vital signs, FE and CPOT tools' scale. Pain was assessed with CPOT and FE scores five times. The first assessment was performed in at least 3 hours after admission of patients to ICU. Then, the pain intensity was reassessed every 30 minutes. In addition, blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate and oxygen saturation were measured simultaneously. RESULTS: At the first period, the frequency of "severe" pain intensity using the CPOT was 58.2% and with the FE tool was 67% (P = 0.001). Both tools demonstrated reduction in severity of pain on second and third assessment times. Significantly increasing level of pain and blood pressure due to nursing painful procedures (endo-tracheal suctioning, changing patient's position, etc.), were obtained by CPOT in fourth assessment. FE was not able to detect such important findings (κ = 0.249). In the fifth step, pain intensity was reduced. The most agreement between the two tools was observed when the reported pain was "severe" (κ = 0.787, P < 0.001) and "mild" (κ = 0.851, P < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: The sensitivity of CPOT was higher for detection and evaluation of pain in intubated postoperative patients compared with "Facial Expression". Best agreement between these tools was observed in two extremes of pain intensity.
KEYWORDS: Cardiac Surgery; Intensive Care Unit; Pain Assessment
Management of analgesia and sedation in the intensive care unit requires evaluation and monitoring of key parameters in order to detect and quantify pain and agitation, and to quantify sedation. The routine use of subjective scales for pain, agitation, and sedation promotes more effective management, including patient-focused titration of medications to specific end-points. The need for frequent measurement reflects the dynamic nature of pain, agitation, and sedation, which change constantly in critically ill patients. Further, close monitoring promotes repeated evaluation of response to therapy, thus helping to avoid over-sedation and to eliminate pain and agitation. Pain assessment tools include self-report (often using a numeric pain scale) for communicative patients and pain scales that incorporate observed behaviors and physiologicmeasures for noncommunicative patients. Some of these tools have undergone validity testing but more work is needed. Sedation-agitation scales can be used to identify and quantify agitation, and to grade the depth of sedation. Some scales incorporate a step-wise assessment of response to increasingly noxious stimuli and a brief assessment of cognition to define levels of consciousness; these tools can often be quickly performed and easily recalled. Many of the sedation-agitation scales have been extensively tested for inter-rater reliability and validated against a variety of parameters. Objective measurement of indicators of consciousness and brain function, such as with processed electroencephalography signals, holds considerable promise, but has not achieved widespread implementation. Further clarification of the roles of these tools, particularly within the context of patient safety, is needed, as is further technology development to eliminate artifacts and investigation to demonstrate added value.