Your patient is 46 year-old, post-op day 1 after a right lower lobe thoracotomy. He has told you he is in terrible pain. What would be the first appropriate response?


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- Can you rate your pain on a scale of 0-10? Zero being no pain, and 10 representing so much pain you're losing conciousness.

- How bad is it?

- I am going to take your blood sugar now.

- Have you tried guided imagery yet today?


It is important to assess pain first. A patient has said his pain is "terrible" but to treat it appropriately, you must quantify it to administer the correct amount of pain medication. Asking how bad it is can be helpful, but doesn't provide the patient enough structure to give you a quantifying response within the pain scale. A blood sugar is not applicable in this scenario.

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