Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Elderly emergency patients less likely to receive pain medication than middle-aged patients

Date:
November 11, 2011
Source:
University of North Carolina School of Medicine
Summary:
A new study finds that people 75 years old or older are less likely to receive any pain medication in hospital emergency departments than people between 35 and 54 years old.

A new study finds that people 75 years old or older are less likely to receive any pain medication in hospital emergency departments than middle aged people -- those between 35 and 54 years old.

And these differences remained even after researchers took into account how much pain the patients were having, said Timothy F. Platts-Mills, MD, lead author of the study and assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.

For example, among older adults reporting severe pain, 67 percent received pain medication, compared to 79 percent of middle aged patients with severe pain.

"We're not exactly sure why this happens," Platts-Mills said. "It may be because physicians are more concerned about potential side effects in this population.

"To us, the gap we observe in pain management for older patients highlights the need to better understand how best to manage pain in older patients and understand the barriers to doing this. All patients, regardless of age, deserve to have relief from pain, especially when it is severe. Our group is actively investigating the side effects of commonly used pain medication and the impact of pain on functional outcomes after injury in older adults. We think that for most older emergency department patients providing effective treatment for acute pain is likely to result in a substantial net benefit," Platts-Mills said.

The study was published online ahead of print by the journal Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Emergency departments (EDs) are an important source of acute care for older adults, with over 20 million ED visits by patients 65 and older each year. Almost half of these visits are for the evaluation and treatment of pain.

Platts-Mills and study co-authors conducted a secondary analysis of data collected from U.S. emergency departments between 2003 and 2009 in order to test the hypothesis that older adults who come to the ED with a primary complaint of pain are less likely to receive pain medication than younger patients.

Their results show that 49 percent of patients 75 and older received an analgesic (such as morphine, oxycodone, or ibuprofen), compared to 68.3 percent of middle-aged patients. Similarly, 34.8 percent of the elderly patients received an opioid (such as morphine or oxycodone) compared to 49.3 percent among the middle-aged.

These differences persisted even after the statistical analyses were adjusted for sex, race/ethnicity, pain severity and other factors. Elderly patients were 19.6 percent less likely to receive an analgesic and 14.6 percent less likely to receive an opioid than middle-aged patients.

Platts-Mills said further research is needed to better understand the long-term impact of acute pain management for older emergency department patients, assess strategies to minimize adverse effects from pain medications, and examine the role of non-pharmacologic pain management for this population.

Dr. Platts-Mills' research is supported by an institutional career development award from the NIH. Co-authors of the study are Denise A. Esserman, PhD; UNC medical student D. Levin Brown; Andrey V. Bortsov, MD, PhD; Philip D. Sloane, MD, MPH; and Samuel A. McLean, MD, MPH. All are from the UNC School of Medicine, the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health or UNC's Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of North Carolina School of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Timothy F. Platts-Mills, Denise A. Esserman, D. Levin Brown, Andrey V. Bortsov, Philip D. Sloane, Samuel A. McLean. Older US Emergency Department Patients Are Less Likely to Receive Pain Medication Than Younger Patients: Results From a National Survey. Annals of Emergency Medicine, 2011; DOI: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2011.09.014

Cite This Page:

University of North Carolina School of Medicine. "Elderly emergency patients less likely to receive pain medication than middle-aged patients." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 November 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111111152206.htm>.
University of North Carolina School of Medicine. (2011, November 11). Elderly emergency patients less likely to receive pain medication than middle-aged patients. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111111152206.htm
University of North Carolina School of Medicine. "Elderly emergency patients less likely to receive pain medication than middle-aged patients." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111111152206.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

AP (July 28, 2014) A bipartisan deal to improve veterans health care would authorize at least $15 billion in emergency spending to fix a veterans program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Reuters - US Online Video (July 28, 2014) Two American aid workers in Liberia test positive for Ebola while working to combat the deadliest outbreak of the virus ever. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins