Hospital patients suffering more pain than necessary
23 Sept 2010
A study of hospitals in Germany has found that over 80% of
patients suffer more severe pain than necessary.
The researchers from Bochum Hospital, Germany, studied the
quality of pain therapy. They evaluated anonymous questionnaires
filled out by approximately 2250 surgical patients and nearly 1000
non-surgical patients from 25 German hospitals between 2004 to 2006.
The study participants were interviewed about the intensity of their
pain and the effectiveness of pain therapy.
Approximately one-third of both the surgical and the non-surgical
patients complained of moderate to severe pain at rest, while more
than half of each group complained of moderate to severe
movement-related pain. All in all, 56% of the participating patients
had pain that they described as unbearable. More than 55% of the
persons questioned considered their pain therapy in the hospital to
have been unsatisfactory.
The authors say that safe medications and analgesic procedures to
treat pain have been available for decades, and that there are
international guidelines for pain treatment. The authors found there
was a worldwide lack of multicentre data about the efficiency of
acute pain therapy in non-surgical wards, so set up the Pain Free
Hospital Project ((Projekt Schmerzfreies Krankenhaus, SFK) in 2003.
They believe these results indicate a clear need for improvement
in pain therapy in German hospitals. In a small number of hospitals,
exemplary efforts in this direction are already underway,
demonstrating that effective pain therapy is indeed possible for
both surgical and non-surgical patients.
1. Maier C, Nestler N, Richter H, Hardinghaus W et al.
The quality of pain management in German hospitals. Dtsch
Arztebl Int 2010; 107(36): 607-14. Full text available at: