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A review of compliance with pain assessments within a UK ICU

28 March 2019
Volume 28 · Issue 6



clinical audits highlight areas where care may not be of the desired quality; they are essential to ensure care is safe and effective. Effective assessment and management of pain have been shown to improve patient wellbeing and clinical outcomes.


this audit aimed to identify compliance with pain assessment tools and documentation within intensive care and make recommendations to improve practice.


compliance with documenting pain assessments was poor, a finding that is consistent with the literature. Although a wealth of evidence has shown pain assessments are not being completed effectively, this continues to be a problem. Intensive care has significant areas for improvement in this area, which would improve patients' experiences and outcomes. Nurses should be educated in the use of pain assessment tools and compliance.


providing patients in intensive care with appropriate analgesia benefits their physical and psychological health. Areas for improvement identified in this audit include that pain assessments need to be carried out and documented regularly. The audit has implications for practice in that it shows a need for reinforced education for staff, better communication and updates to promote pain assessment and the implementation of guidelines.

Clinical audits are essential to ensure that safe and effective care is provided (National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), 2002; Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre (ICNARC), 2017. They can be used to identify areas for improvement. These audits are used to evaluate care and services, highlight areas where care may not be of the desired quality and identify areas for improvement against a set criteria (NICE, 2002; Health Service Executive, 2013; ICNARC, 2017).

This clinical improvement project aimed to improve quality and provide safe, high-quality care (NICE, 2002; NHS England, 2017). Audits are beneficial not only to patients but also to staff, as they increase knowledge and promote job satisfaction (Health Service Executive, 2013).

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