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Highly Accessed Open Badges Review

Analgesia in the emergency department: a GRADE-based evaluation of research evidence and recommendations for practice

Chris Lipp*, Raj Dhaliwal and Eddy Lang

Author Affiliations

University of Calgary, Faculty of Medicine, Alberta Health Services, Calgary, Canada

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Critical Care 2013, 17:212  doi:10.1186/cc12521

This article is one of ten reviews selected from the Annual Update in Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine 2013 and co-published as a series in Critical Care. Other articles in the series can be found online at Further information about the Annual Update in Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine is available from

Published: 19 March 2013

First paragraph (this article has no abstract)

Emergency physicians care for patients with pain on an extremely frequent basis [1-20]. The prevalence of pain as the presenting complaint of patients seeking emergency department (ED) care ranges from 38% [3] to as high as 78% [1]. As a result, evidence-based use of analgesics should be a foundational skill of emergency physicians. However, the literature consistently reports that emergency physicians are often poor at treating pain [1,2,8,13,14,16,19,20]. Notwithstanding the prevalence of pain in the ED, many patients often report that their pain was not properly treated [3,7,20]. In addition to a compromised patient experience, sub-optimal treatment of pain will result in decreased department flow, increased wait times, more return visits to the ED, and increased hospitalization rates.