Objectives: The aim of this survey was to establish the pain management approaches to acute painful crisis (APC) in sickle cell patients at two healthcare facilities and to compare with available guidelines.
Methods: A multi-centre observational survey of the management of APC in sickle cell patients was conducted. Data were collected at the Sickle Cell Unit (SCU), Tropical Medicine Research Institute (TMRI) and Accident and Emergency Department (A&E), University Hospital of the West Indies.
Results: One hundred episodes of uncomplicated APC involving 81 patients managed at the SCU clinic and 64 episodes at the A&E in a total of 28 patients were included in the data set. Drugs used at the SCU included oral morphine, codeine and paracetamol and intramuscular diclofenac. At the A&E, parenteral morphine and pethidine were most commonly used. At the SCU, the mean time to initiation of analgesics was 38 minutes (IQR 25 to 50 minutes); at the A&E, this was 111 minutes (IQR 50 to 150 minutes). At the SCU, the mean duration of stay (DOS) was 2.9 hours (IQR 1.9 to 3.8 hours) with 94% of the patients being discharged home. At the A&E, the mean DOS was 13.0 hours (IQR 8.3 to 16.9 hours) with 93% of the patients being discharged home. The A&E patient group contained multiple high frequency presenters. Documentation of pain severity scores was inconsistent.
Conclusion: The findings of the survey indicate that the management of APC at the two centres is substantially different. Further study is required to investigate patient satisfaction, centre preference and analgesic therapy efficacy.