Turning is Big Pain

Analgesics should be given to some acutely ill patients before they are turned in bed and yet they may be left in pain

Needle phobia is perhaps the biggest fear most people have from a medical intervention. The anticipated pain that people dread is undeniable.

Yet for those in hospitals, surprising that it is through being turned that they experience most pain and it is the most dreaded procedure.

The pain that hospital patients experience adds to the suffering they already have from their illness. It has considerable impact on their wellbeing from a physiological and psychological perspective.

This is especially true for patients in acute and critical care settings. Pain patients suffer when this ill has an impact on their outcome and survival. Yet there is little evidence on how these patients suffer from pain, especially when the medical focus tends to be mainly focused on making sure they remain alive. In many cases, these very ill patients cannot communicate how much pain they feel.


Little is known about how much pain routine procedures cause to these patients and yet it known that these patients commonly feel great pain. So analgesics should be given to some patients before they are turned in anticipation of their pain.

The decision as to who should be given analgesia is best based on asking the patient about any pain they experience from turning and also watching the patient for any signs of pain if they cannot communicate effectively.

Giving pain relief to someone on a ventilator in ICU is complicated by the fact that giving morphine can making breathing more difficult. Thus it is a balance between giving them relief from pain and getting them out of the ICU. For the patient’s sake the aim is to get them off the ventilator as quick as possible and out of intensive care.

Conor Caffrey is a medical and science writer.


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