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Understanding Sedation Scales

I remember going through nursing school and being told repeatedly...


"You have 5 vital signs: Pulse, respiratory rate, blood pressure, temperature, and pain!"

And then I was told...

"Pain is what the patient says it is!"

Enough with the yelling already!


Ok, so I know a couple of things from these repeated badgerings.


First off, I have to include pain assessments every time I do a set of vitals (I would come to find out later, especially in the surgical trauma ICU that it was a much more frequent assessment). Secondly, I have to take what a patient says their pain is, at face value (even if they are outwardly exhibiting something that I would interpret differently).


But before we get into sedation scales, let's look at two key factors to pain control: opioid tolerance and opioid