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Pain Research and Treatment
Volume 2011, Article ID 934932, 8 pages
Research Article

A Survey of Acute Pain Service Structure and Function in United States Hospitals

1Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Management, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, 5323 Harry Hines Boulevard, Dallas, TX 75390-9068, USA
2Parkland Health and Hospital System, Dallas, TX 75235, USA

Received 1 October 2010; Revised 5 January 2011; Accepted 7 February 2011

Academic Editor: Michael G. Irwin

Copyright © 2011 Dawood Nasir et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Although the number of U.S. hospitals offering an acute pain service (APS) is increasing, the typical structure remains unknown. This survey was undertaken to describe the structure and function of the APS in U.S. hospitals only. We contacted 200 non-teaching and 101 teaching U.S. hospitals. The person in charge of postoperative pain management completed and returned the survey. Seventy-four percent of responding hospitals had an organized APS. An APS was significantly more formally organized in academic/teaching hospitals when compared to non-teaching hospitals. Pain assessments included “pain at rest” (97%), “pain on activity” (63%), and reassessment after pain therapy intervention (88.8%). Responding hospitals utilized postoperative pain protocols significantly more commonly in teaching hospitals when compared to non-teaching and VA hospitals. Intravenous patient controlled analgesia (IV-PCA) was managed most commonly by surgeons (75%), while epidural analgesia and peripheral nerve block infusions were exclusively managed by anesthesiologists. For improved analgesia, 62% allowed RNs to adjust the IV-PCA settings within set parameters, 43% allowed RN adjustment of epidural infusion rates, and 21% allowed RN adjustment of peripheral nerve catheter local anesthetic infusion rates.