Pain is one of the most common reasons people present to the emergency centre with 7-10% of presentations being due to acute abdominal pain.
However, pain is also often neglected by clinicians in emergency centres. The well-validated South African Triage Score (SATS) incorporates pain assessment in the prioritising of patients with the aim of guiding clinicians. Based on the SATS, severe pain (a score of ≥8 out of 10) should prompt the clinician to initiate treatment within 10 min of presentation, as unmanaged pain has multiple negative consequences, including poor outcomes of the acute incident with delayed healing and increased risk of developing chronic pain.
In this commentary, we present a patient’s experience when attending an emergency centre for acute abdominal pain, describe relevant pain mechanisms and highlight the stages where clinical management could have been optimised.
PainSA is a chapter of the International Association for the Study of Pain. Our mission is to improve all aspects of pain management in Southern Africa.