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Decreasing severe pain and serious adverse events while moving intensive care unit patients: a prospective interventional study (the NURSE-DO project)

Audrey de Jong1, Nicolas Molinari2, Sylvie de Lattre1, Claudine Gniadek1, Julie Carr1, Mathieu Conseil1, Marie-Pierre Susbielles1, Boris Jung13, Samir Jaber13 and Gérald Chanques13*

Author Affiliations

1 Intensive Care and Anesthesiology Department, University of Montpellier Saint Eloi Hospital, 80 Avenue Augustin Fliche, Montpellier, 34295, France

2 Department of Statistics, University of Montpellier Lapeyronie Hospital, 39 Avenue Charles Flahaut, Montpellier, 34295, France

3 Unité U1046 de l'Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM), Arnaud de Villeneuve Hospital, University of Montpellier 1, University of Montpellier 2, 39 Avenue Charles Flahaut, Montpellier, 34295, France

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Critical Care 2013, 17:R74  doi:10.1186/cc12683

Published: 18 April 2013



A quality-improvement project was conducted to reduce severe pain and stress-related events while moving ICU-patients.


The Plan-Do-Check-Adjust cycle was studied during four one-month phases, separated by five-month interphases. All consecutive patients staying more than 24 hours were evaluated every morning while being moved for nursing care (bathing, massage, sheet-change, repositioning). Phase 1 was considered as the baseline. Implemented and adjusted quality-interventions were assessed at phases 2 and 3, respectively. An independent post-intervention control-audit was performed at Phase 4. Primary-endpoints were the incidence of severe pain defined by a behavioral pain scale > 5 or a 0 to 10 visual numeric rating scale > 6, and the incidence of serious adverse events (SAE): cardiac arrest, arrhythmias, tachycardia, bradycardia, hypertension, hypotension, desaturation, bradypnea or ventilatory distress. Pain, SAE, patients' characteristics and analgesia were compared among the phases by a multivariate mixed-effects model for repeated-measurements, adjusted on severity index, age, admission type (medical/surgical), intubation and sedation status.


During the four studied phases, 630 care procedures were analyzed in 53, 47, 43 and 50 patients, respectively. Incidence of severe pain decreased significantly from 16% (baseline) to 6% in Phase 3 (odds ratio (OR) = 0.33 (0.11; 0.98), P = 0.04) and 2% in Phase 4 (OR = 0.30 (0.12; 0.95), P = 0.02). Incidence of SAE decreased significantly from 37% (baseline) to 17% in Phase 3 and 21% in Phase 4. In multivariate analysis, SAE were independently associated with Phase 3 (OR = 0.40 (0.23; 0.72), P < 0.01), Phase 4 (OR = 0.53 (0.30; 0.92), P = 0.03), intubation status (OR = 1.91 (1.28; 2.85), P < 0.01) and severe pain (OR = 2.74 (1.54; 4.89), P < 0.001).


Severe pain and serious adverse events are common and strongly associated while moving ICU patients for nursing procedures. Quality improvement of pain management is associated with a decrease of serious adverse events. Careful documentation of pain management during mobilization for nursing procedures could be implemented as a health quality indicator in the ICU.