What is pain? If you ask someone to tell you the definition of pain they will typically state something that hurts. Registered nurses should know the definition of pain and how it can be identified on their patients. However, Abdalrahim, Majali, Stomberg, and Bergbom (2010) propose that nurses did not receive adequate education in pain management and suggest the lack of knowledge hinders their ability to adequate control their patients’ pain. Therefore, the unethical treatment of pain can be traced back nurses.
Since Abdalrahim et al. (2010) stated that nurses are not being properly educated in pain and pain management here is some different definitions and examples. According to Engebretson, Monsivais, & Mahoney (2006), “Pain results from somatosensory, cognitive and emotional events, and, in the case of chronic pain, neuroplastic changes that alter the physiology and change nervous system responses to various stimuli”. There are two distinct different types of pain acute and chronic. Ferrell (2005) suggest that acute pain can be manifested by different types of trauma (sprained ankle, broken leg, stubbed toe, pulled muscle, etc.), surgical incisions or body parts manipulated during surgery, and even the effects of a cold. Chronic pain can be portrayed as many medical conditions some examples are: migraine headaches, arthritis, clinical depression, fibromyalgia, and spinal stenosis (Ferrell, 2005). The best definition for nurses was stated by Margo McCaffrey (1968), “Pain is whatever the experiencing person says it is, existing whenever the experiencing person says it does”.
Patients if possible have a right to be pain free and in 2001 Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO, 2011) required that the patients’ pain be assessed on admission, during assessments, reassessed when vital signs are taken or there is a change in the patients’ condition. JCAHO (2011) also stated that patients and their families needed to be educated about pain and how the patients’ pain is going to be managed. Every patient perceives and exhibits pain in a different manner and if nurses do not assess the patient thoroughly they can miss it. For instance, Engebretson et al. (2006) acknowledged that, patients manifest pain in different ways and this resulted in nurses performing an inadequate assessment of their patients’ pain. Also, Engebretson et al. recognized that patients often conceal their pain because they do not want to be viewed by staff as complainers or addicts, and if patients decide to speak up the nurses frequently view their patients’ statements from their own cultural, moral and ethical belief system and not their patients which leaves the patients’ pain untreated.
Trossman (2006) states that at least 50% of patients are suffering from moderate to severe pain at their time of death, that 70 million Americans experience pain throughout their activities of daily living and that nurses hold the keys to pain...