Predictors of Narcotic Analgesic Administration in the First 48 Post-Operative Hours

Robin Weir, Jacqueline Roberts, Gina Boh Browne, Joan Crook, William Barnes


Of the various types of pain problems, post-operative pain should be the least complex to manage because its source is usually distinct and its course is self-limiting (Keeri-Szanto, 1979). Nonetheless, there is widespread evidence that the management of pain in surgical patients is regularly and systematically inadequate (Angell, 1982; Cartwright, 1985; Marks & Sachar, 1973; Smith & Utting, 1976). Concern about this apparent failure in pain management has produced a substantial body of literature that addresses factors influencing the degree of pain reported, the analgesia required and the amount of analgesia administered post-operatively. A variety of demographic, clinical and treatment variables have been shown to be associated with the administration of post-operative analgesia. However, there are discrepancies in the results of the studies, and there is no indication as to the importance of these diverse variables in explaining the use of analgesics post-operatively.
The purpose of this prospective study was to weigh simultaneously the importance of selected patient characteristics, intra-operative procedures and the post-operative analgesic management regimen as factors that may combine to explain the frequency of administered analgesic doses. More specifically, the purpose of the study was to quantify the contribution of these selected variables to the use of analgesics in adult surgical patients in the first 48 hours post operation.

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