Cancer patients’ pain eased by simple bedside chart
The new approach reduces pain levels compared with conventional care, the research with patients shows.
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh worked with doctors to develop the Edinburgh Pain Assessment and management Tool (EPAT) – a pen and paper chart which medical staff use to regularly record pain levels in a simple traffic light system.
Using a traffic light system – amber or red pain levels – indicating moderate or severe pain – prompts doctors to review medications and side effects and monitor pain more closely.
The trial looked at pain levels in almost 2000 cancer patients over five days, following admission to regional cancer centres.
Importantly, use of the chart was not linked to higher medicine doses.
The authors suggest that it works by encouraging doctors to ask the right questions and reflect on pain medications and side effects more frequently, before patients reach a crisis point.
Researchers say the system is a simple way to put pain management at the forefront of routine care, but caution that more studies are needed to understand how it could work longer term.
The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology and was funded by Cancer Research UK.
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