Older US emergency department patients are less likely to receive pain medication than younger patients: results from a national survey.
The purpose of this study is to determine whether older adults presenting to the emergency department (ED) with pain are less likely to receive pain medication than younger adults.Pain-related visits to US EDs were identified with reason-for-visit codes from 7 years (2003 to 2009) of the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. The primary outcome was the administration of an analgesic. The percentage of patients receiving analgesics in 4 age groups was adjusted for measured covariates, including pain severity.Pain-related visits accounted for 88,031 (46.9%) ED visits by patients aged 18 years or older during the 7-year period. There were 7,585 pain-related ED visits by patients aged 75 years or older, representing an estimated 3.65 million US ED visits annually. In comparing survey-weighted unadjusted estimates, pain-related visits by patients aged 75 years or older were less likely than visits by patients aged 35 to 54 years to result in administration of an analgesic (49% versus 68.3%) or an opioid (34.8% versus 49.3%). Absolute differences in rates of analgesic and opioid administration persisted after adjustment for sex, race/ethnicity, pain severity, and other factors and multiple imputation of missing pain severity data, with visits by patients aged 75 years and older being 19.6% (95% confidence interval 17.8% to 21.4%) less likely than visits by patients aged 35 to 54 years to receive an analgesic and 14.6% (95% confidence interval 12.8% to 16.4%) less likely to receive an opioid.Patients aged 75 years and older with pain-related ED visits are less likely to receive pain medication than patients aged 35 to 54 years.
Platts-Mills, TF; Esserman, DA; Brown, DL; Bortsov, AV; Sloane, PD; McLean, SA
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