Friday, October 26, 2007

Pain Scale Absurdity

From Scalpel or Sword:

Two patients came into the ER by ambulance complaining of pain.

One was a young woman with another migraine, who "usually gets" Dilaudid 4-6 mg IV in addition to IV Reglan and Ativan. She was allergic to many other medications, but she had a full bottle of dilaudid 8 mg pills and some Actiq lollipops in her purse from two different pain specialists. Her usual medications also included Ambien 20 mg at bedtime and Xanax 2 mg every 6 hours. Although she complained of vomiting constantly for 3 days, her vital signs, physical exam, bloodwork, urinalysis, and imaging tests were all negative, and she never vomited in the ER. She spoke calmly and was in no apparent distress.

The other patient was an elderly lady who had fallen at home, fracturing her hip. She was taking a blood thinner, so her grotesquely angulated and deformed thigh was also markedly swollen. The fact that she had crawled down the stairs after her injury in order to call the ambulance probably contributed to the swelling and deformity somewhat. She trembled a bit as she asked for something to relieve her pain.

Guess whose pain was a 5/10 and whose was a 10/10?


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