Activity 11.2: Reflective practice

Reflect on the care of one or two patients where you identified that they might be in pain but they did not express this openly.

How did you know they were in pain?

You might have seen signs such as grimacing or sweating (especially when moving), they may be quieter than normal or staying in one position. A relative might have said something to you whereas the patient did not – this is usually because the patients doesn’t want to bother anyone.

Did you discuss this with them? If not, why not?

If we see someone who might be in pain we should discuss this with him or her and identify whether they are experiencing pain, undertake a full assessment and discuss what we could do for them. You should consider pain as the 5th Vital Sign and always be looking out for signs of pain. Unfortunately pain is often overlooked as healthcare staff are ‘busy’ or don’t consider it at all.

Why do you think the patient did not openly inform anyone that they were experiencing pain?

As previously stated many patients do not ‘like to bother anyone’ or they may feel that they should expect some pain (i.e. after an operation). At times some patients feel that they should just ‘grin and bear it’. These are not acceptable reasons for ignoring that someone might be in pain and the patient should be encouraged to discuss their pain.

If you undertook a pain assessment was it effective and did it support what you first thought?

If you did observe signs that someone was in pain and then undertook a pain assessment you will generally find that your observation was accurate.