Pain, and the appropriate treatment of it, has recently come to the forefront of issues addressed with healthcare providers. Since the cornerstone of pain management is an appropriate assessment, methods of accurate pain evaluation are necessary. This need is particularly important in the population of patients who cannot express their pain. While pain assessment tools are available for use with nonverbal patients and hospitals typically mandate the use of one of these tools, actual compliance with such policy may not actually occur. Various barriers, such as education in the use of a tool, time, and the personal views of the nurse, may interfere with the use of such tools. This study utilizes a survey to evaluate the attitudes and practices of ICU nurses towards the use of pain assessment tools in nonverbal patients. Ninety-two percent of participants reported use of a pain assessment tool, and 72% reported using one at least 50% of the time. Sixteen (64%) of participants considered nursing workload to be a barrier to the use of pain assessment tools for nonverbal patients at least 50% of the time. No correlation was found between years of experience and the use of a pain assessment tool. The data collected in this study identifies current nursing practice so that future care in the area of pain assessment and management in non-communicative patients can be improved
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