Over Treating Pain May Have Serious Consequences for the Injured

Written by on 4/6/2016 3:17 AM in , , . It has 1 Comments.


On a scale of 1 to 10, the danger of over-medicating following the use of notoriously unscientific “pain scales” in employee injury management is an 11. Why? The practice has been linked to injury and even death in pain patients.

How would you rate your pain?
Authors for the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma studied the use of pain scales and their correlation to the prescription of sedatives and narcotics during two separate time periods. Case reports were reviewed for 2,907 patients treated in 1994-98, and 2,282 patients treated in 2000-04. The study uncovered:

  • The deaths of over 50% of patients (1,459) in the 1994-1998 group, and 37.9% of patients (867) in the 2000-04 study group, overall.
  • Overmedication was clearly linked to the deaths of 13 patients in the 1994-98 study, and 32 patients in the 2000-04 study.
  • Overmedication likely contributed to deaths of 5 patients in the 1994-98 study, and 14 patients in the 2000-04 study.
  • Clearly linked and “likely” deaths occurred after blunt injury in 17 and 43 patients, respectively, and 1 and 3 patients, respectively, after penetrating injury.
  • One patient in each period died as a result of prehospital overmedication.
  • Most patients were men – 71% and 66%, respectively, with an average age of 35.

Predominating scenarios
Patients were most commonly overmedicated in two situations: following discharge from ICU to the floor, and in preparation for imaging studies. Overmedication with sedatives and narcotics resulted in hypotension compromising airways. The subsequent intubation required began a series of negative events, ultimately leading to death.

Employee injury management is serious business. Ensure safe results with the help of Minnesota Comp Advisor today.

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