Pain is very common in patients attending emergency departments (A&E Departments, or EDs), but is often difficult to treat effectively. If a patient is in severe pain in the ED they usually receive morphine through a drip, administered by a nurse.
A patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) device is a syringe usually containing morphine that can be connected to a drip in the patient’s arm, which allows the patient to deliver their own pain relief by pressing a button. PCA devices are commonly used in other areas of the hospital (typically after an operation), but are not usually used in the ED. This study compared pain relief using a PCA to the normal pain relief delivered by a nurse in adult emergency patients in pain who are subsequently admitted to hospital. The study aimed to see if giving patients a PCA device in the ED, and during the first few hours of their stay in hospital, improved pain relief and patient satisfaction.