Many patients arrive at the accident and emergency (A&E) department in pain. To quantify this problem a retrospective analysis was performed of the clinical records of 502 consecutive patients arriving by ambulance at the A&E department over a 20-day period. A total of 273 (54%) of the patients had pain as a symptom on arrival and 69 (14%) were given opioid analgesia in the A&E department. Sixty of those given opioids had a single limb fracture. A survey of all ambulance services in the U.K. was conducted by means of a postal questionnaire sent to chief ambulance officers. Only five out of 65 services give any analgesia other than Entonox (B.O.C.). There were wide variations in the attitudes of services around the country to future developments. The authors suggest that paramedics should be trained to administer intravenous opioid analgesia.
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