Plymouth hospital in pain relief control trial

Emergency care patients at a Devon hospital are to take part in a trial to find out if they get more pain relief when administering their own drugs.

The patients at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth will deliver intravenous painkillers to themselves by pressing a button attached to a syringe holder.

A grant of £250,000 from the National Institute of Health Research will fund the research.

The two and a half-year trial is due to start in June.

A minimum of 400 patients will be involved.

Pain management

Patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) is already used in other settings in most UK hospitals and the study will investigate if its use should be extended into emergency care, the hospital said.

The standard procedure is for a nurse to deliver painkillers.

The hospital said that no previous studies had looked at the use of PCA for patients in emergency departments.

Emergency medicine consultant Dr Jason Smith, who is involved in the trial, said: "We suspect that by giving patients control of their own pain relief, they may feel their pain is better managed."

He added: "If the findings are positive, the implications for emergency patients are considerable as implementing the use of PCA in emergency departments throughout the country could be relatively easily achieved."

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