Non-traumatic musculoskeletal pain in Western Australian hospital emergency departments: A clinical audit of the prevalence, management practices and evidence-to-practice gaps

Briarley Baker, Kenny Kessler, Bronwyn Kaiser, Robert Waller, Michael Ingle, Simone Brambilla, Elena Viscardi, Karen Richards, Peter O'Sullivan, Roger Goucke, Anne Smith, Felix Yao, Ivan Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

OBJECTIVES: Musculoskeletal pain (MSP) conditions are a leading cause of morbidity worldwide and a common reason for ED presentation. Little is currently known about non-traumatic MSP (NTMSP) presenting to EDs. The present study described the prevalence and management practices of NTMSP in EDs.

METHODS: The design was a retrospective clinical audit in two hospital EDs in Western Australia covering 3 months beginning 1 January 2016. We defined NTMSP as pain of musculoskeletal origin occurring in the absence of external force or excessive physical loading. The outcomes measured included: patient, condition and hospital-episode characteristics, as well as management practices. Management practices were compared to recommended care derived from guideline recommendations. These included: assessment for red flags and psychosocial risk factors, appropriate use of diagnostic imaging, provision of patient education, administration and prescription of analgesic medication, and assessment of risk factors for opioid-related harm.

RESULTS: Eight hundred and eighty-eight patients were included in the present study. NTMSP accounted for 3.0% of all ED presentations. According to clinician documentation, red flag and psychosocial assessments were recorded in 73.3 and 10.5% of patients. Forty-one percent of patients were referred for imaging, of which 39.7% were inconsistent with guideline recommendations. Education was recorded 52.0% of the time. At least one opioid medication was administered to 55.3% of patients and there was no documented assessment of risk factors for opioid-related harm.

CONCLUSIONS: NTMSP is a relatively common reason for ED presentation. Documented management practices are discordant with guideline recommendations. Strategies to improve the concordance between management and guideline recommendations are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1037-1044
Number of pages8
JournalEmergency Medicine
Volume31
Issue number6
Early online date14 May 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019

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