Pain in Older People Attending Emergency Departments

  • Sophie PautexEmail author


Acute pain is a common reason for emergency department (ED) visits among older patients [1]. Effective treatment of acute pain is important for the relief of suffering. Furthermore, unrelieved acute pain is associated with poorer outcomes during hospitalisation, including, for example, persistent pain, longer hospital length of stay and delirium [2–7]. Despite the frequency with which this problem is encountered and the importance of effective pain treatment, disparities in pain care continue to exist for older adults when compared with younger adults, evidenced by high rates of pain at the end of the ED visit and lower rates of treatment for older versus younger adults [1, 7–14]. Although increased attention to this issue has resulted in some improvement in pain care documentation and use of analgesia in older adults, older adults with acute pain are up to 20% less likely to receive treatment than younger patients and still often leave the ED with pain [15, 16]. Furthermore, cross-sectional studies of pain reporting in individuals with dementia have presented evidence that they receive fewer analgesics than noncognitively impaired older people for the same indications [17–22]. There are multiple reasons for under-treatment (Table 22.1), but the most common reason is that pain is not detected [23–27].


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Community Medicine, Primary Care and Emergency MedicineGeneva University Hospitals, University of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland

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