Facilities often fall short in controlling residents' pain

Share this content:

Many nursing homes may need to re-evaluate their medication prescribing practices, new research suggests.

Less than half of residents in a study who had recurrent pain actually were receiving pain medication, investigators found. Their study was published in
the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
"The inclusion of pain as a quality measure for both short-term and long-term residents is intended to provide an incentive for nursing homes to improve their practices in this area," said researchers, led by Colorado's Dr. Evelyn Hutt. "The use of evidence-based process measures will permit an organization to begin addressing persistent problems in pain management."
Inadequate pain management could result in lowering a person's quality of life and contribute to sleep deprivation, decreased activity, poor nutrition, depression, agitation, anxiety and delayed healing.
Between 45% and 80% of nursing home residents experience significant pain, the American Geriatrics Society estimates.
As part of the study, an interdisciplinary team of researchers designed a Nursing Home Pain Medication Appropriateness Scale to screen the suitability of pain prescribing practices in a nursing home.
The team then compared pain assessments performed by trained assistants to the actual medications prescribed to the residents being evaluated.
Findings showed that the total scale mean was only 64% of optimal. Further, fewer than 50% of residents who had recurrent pain were receiving medication. But the study found that the prescribing of pain medication on the scale was better in situations where residents were not in recurrent pain.