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Pain Assessment- ABCDE Mnemonic Approach (Reading & Sharing)

Asking patient about the extent of pain and assessing systematically.

Believing that the degree of pain the patient reports is accurate.

Choosing the appropriate method of pain control for the patient and circumstances.

Delivering pain interventions appropriately and in a timely, logical manner.

Empowering patients and family by helping them to have control of the course of treatment.

The 5 key elements of pain assessment include:

  • Words: use to describ pain, such as burning, stabbing, deep, shooting, and sharp. Some may complain of pressure, squeezing, and discomfort rather than pain.
  • Intensity: use the appropriate scale to quantify the degree of pain.
  • Location: where patient indicates pain.
  • Duration: constant or comes and goes, breakthrough pain.
  • Aggravating/ alleviating factors: those things that increase the intensity of pain and those that relieve the pain.

The best assessment of the patient’s pain is his own report. All other information is assessed as supporting this support. However, when this method is restricted or unavailable, physical signs and symptoms can help the nurse’s assessment capabilities. It is important to be familiar with the patient’s baseline or resting information to give a clear picture of the body changes may go through when experiencing significant pain. Systolic blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration may all increase above the patient’s normal parameters. Tightness or tension may be felt in major muscle groups. Posturing can also occur: the patient may guard areas of the body, curl around themselves in a “fetal” position or hold certain body portions rigid. Calling out, increased volume in speech, and moaning can also be indicators. Facial expressions such as flat affect or grimacing and distraction from their surroundings also indicate a significant increase in the stressful stimulus.

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