A Nurse With Attitude

Where Dark Cynical Humor, Nursing Issues, and Politics Seem to Merge

The Universal Pain Scale


I once was a PACU nurse (post anesthesia care unit)  or what most people  call it the “recovery room.”   Now I work in surgery.   Today, we have all sorts of people who have surgery.  We have children, non-English speaking people, all sorts.  When a person comes to the hospital to have surgery, we tell them up front that there will be pain.  To better treat them for their post operative pain, we will ask them to tell us about the pain.  We say, “think of it on a one to ten scale where zero is no pain at all and ten is the worst pain that you have ever felt.  This way we can better treat you.”  This is the instruction we give everyone.    For those who are very young or can’t speak English, this works very well.   We have a  pictorial scale with the small smiley faces arranged in a 1 to 10 scale.  This is the scale used way back when I was a PACU nurse.


Just the other day, I actually saw a brand new “pain scale.”   It was a one to eleven scale.  When I saw it, I laughed out loud.  I told the PACU nurse, “I can’t believe you’re actually using this.”   She said,  “well, I guess it’s just the new Obama care,  in action.”


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