July 29, 2010

Grant to study post-surgical pain management

Grant to study post-surgical pain management

Vanderbilt University Medical Center nursing is taking a closer look at pain management in post-surgical patients thanks to an Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research (AHRQ) grant recently secured by Fern FitzHenry, Ph.D., R.N., research assistant professor for Biomedical Informatics.

”This is a great example of a project that can ultimately help improve our own care of patients as well as contribute to the body of evidence-based knowledge in the nursing profession,” said Marilyn Dubree, M.S.N., R.N., executive chief nursing officer.

The team that includes nurse researchers and informaticists will review data from July 2008 through June 2010, specifically looking at pain scores and pain interventions among post-surgical patients with a stay of 48 hours or longer at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt and Vanderbilt University Hospital.

“This study will use secondary analysis of electronic health records and data mining to see how we may be able to improve practice,” said Nancy Wells, D.N.Sc., R.N., director of Nursing Research, who mentored FitzHenry through the grant process.

“Vanderbilt has implemented some pretty comprehensive nursing documentation systems and with so many information systems at Vanderbilt, it is a wonderful laboratory for research,” said FitzHenry, who has worked with clinical information systems more than 25 years and with Vanderbilt more than 12 years.

FitzHenry considers this one-year, $100,000 project a “demonstration” grant to provide the evidence to see whether this issue merits additional studies into possible interventions for pain management such as a nurse-led acute pain service extension of rapid response teams.

“I think this is an opportunity to get evidence-based knowledge embedded into informatics tools for nursing,” FitzHenry said. “Nurses are in an advocacy position for their patients in pain but it takes a lot of time when the planned approach to pain relief doesn’t seem to be working. We need more data and even better system support.”