Pain - Don't take it lightly! An anesthetist's ramblings

February 27, 2011

What is a vital sign? Well, it depends on the situation. If you are in love then whatever signal your partner gives should be one. Well in my business, I deal with human and a lot of pain so I'm talking about the human vital sign.

Yes, PAIN! Don't take it lightly as it is the 5th human vital sign. Do you know the other 4? Well, no price for guessing. It is the Blood Pressure, Heart Rate, Temperature and Respiratory Rate.

Pain is the 5th vital sign. What does that mean to you? That means the nurse should be recording your Pain Score each time he/she checks your blood pressure. Pain score can be given as a numerical number from 1 to 10, 1 being least pain and 10 being the worst pain you have ever had in your life. My humble opinion is that nobody should be suffering in pain when they are in a hospital because we have everything we need to treat you. Anything more than a number 5 requires immediate attention. That's the least we can do for you. I think it is mentioned somewhere in the Hippocratic Oath.

Untreated pain raises your blood pressure, releases a lot of bad chemicals from the body resulting in poor wound healing, poor lung function after operation and a list of other bad things. Surgeons might want to take a note.

Ok, as a patient in this day and age you have a right to voice out your concerns and anxieties especially when you are in PAIN. Ask for pain relief. Don't be timid, don't be shy. It is definitely not a test of your endurance to PAIN. So next time you see me give a shout.

Dr. Mohamed Asri B Kader Ibrahim
Consultant Anaesthetist
Columbia Asia Hospital- Bukit Rimau