Remember PQRST for Pain Assessment [EASY WAY]

For one to become an effective and efficient nurse, he/she must not only know how to provide treatment interventions, but must be very good in performing assessment as well. It has always been overlooked, but assessment plays a big part in identifying appropriate interventions to address the problem existing. Assessment may sound easy, but in reality, it isn’t.

For example, you do not just give an analgesic to a patient who complains of pain without assessing him/her first. When assessing a patient in pain, below is a mnemonic to help the nurse remember better and easier what to look into and probe on.

imagesWhen in Pain, remember PQRST

P = Provokes

Get to know what causes pain and ask the patient what makes it better or worse. What brought on the symptoms? What was the patient doing when it started?

Q = Quality

Questions should be focused on what the pain feels like. Is the pain stabbing, burning, sharp? Is it a gnawing feeling? Dull? Crushing? ( Try to let patient describe the pain, sometimes they say what they think you would like to hear. )

R = Radiates

Find out where the pain radiates. Is it in one place? Does it go anywhere else? Did it start elsewhere and now localized to one spot?Does the pain go anywhere or does it just stay in one place?

S = Severity

How severe is the pain on a scale of 1 – 10?How bad is it? Are there any other symptoms associated with it? (This may be difficult as the rating will differ from patient to patient. )

T = Time

T is for timing/triggers. When did it come on? What time did the pain start? Is it continuous or intermittent? What makes it worse?How long did it last?

Other questions to ask and look for when assessing patients in pain are:

  • Do you have any medication or allergies?
  • Does it hurt on deep inspiration?
  • Activity at the onset?
  • Do you have any history of pain?
  • Is it the same?
  • Different?
  • Is there any family history of heart disease lung problems, stroke or hypertension?
  • Check Level Of Consciousness.
  • Assess the pupils
  • Midline trachea?
  • Any recent trauma


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