On A Scale From 0 to 10, Please Rate Your Pain

Posted by in Ethics, Nurse, Pain

This phrase, I’d venture to say has the capacity to be interpreted in a countless amount of ways. As a nurse, we ask this question multiple times per day, everyday. As one would expect, we almost always receive some variation of the ‘standard’ pain scale that attempts to offer an explanation for our patients perception of their pain. Once we have this information, we are then tasked with attempting to keep an open mind and not formulate a biased opinion based on the numerical value given by our patients. At times it can be quite challenging to keep a non-judgmental attitude surrounding the level of pain our patients state they are in and what we perceive their level of pain to actually be. At moments of weakness such as this, where we find ourselves questioning our patient’s perception of what their pain feels like, it is important to take a step back and remember why you are a nurse in the first place. Yes, it is easy to become jaded and to assume someone is lying about a pain rating, even after you’ve already medicated them with everything under the sun, but what if they are telling the truth? Not all pain medication works the same in every person, and it is important that we are cognoscente of that. Ultimately, we are here to advocate for our patients, not judge them and act as a human lie detector. Don’t get me wrong, I am well aware that there are some patient’s out there who are simply ‘drug-seeking’, but it is crucial to recognize that the majority of them are not. Pain is subjective and no matter what the number associated with it, we have to always strive to keep an open mind and remember that we are here to help.