20 Out of 10 Medical Providers Annoyed by Patients’ Misuse of Pain Scales

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ATLANTA, GA – According to a new study by the Centers for Pain Control & Other Nonsense (CPCON), a whopping 20 out of 10 medical providers are annoyed by the gross and exaggerated misuse of pain scales in the adult population.  The study looked at 55 bajillion patients and their medical providers at hospitals and clinics across the entire galaxy over a trillion-year timeframe.  Adults with actual pain were excluded from the study.

annoyed doctorPerhaps the most well-known and misused pain scale is the Wong-Baker FACES Pain Rating Scale.  This particular scale rates pain from 0 (happy face, no hurt, or no pain) to 10 (sad face, hurts worst, or worst pain imaginable).  The scale was introduced in the early 1980s by Donna Wong and Connie Baker as an ideal pain scale for the pediatric population, but has seen growing application in variable forms in the adult population.


The CPCON study states the Wong-Baker FACES scale remains highly reliable and valid in the pediatric population.  However, the same study reveals all pain scales (including the Wong-Baker FACES Rating Scale) are absolutely useless in the adult population.  Furthermore, the results are “ridiculously statistically significant.”

Medical providers are not surprised by the findings.

“When a grown adult tells me a number greater than 10, I truly want to smack them,” said nurse Mary Johns, the thirteenth of eight nurses asked for comment.  “I mean, what point are you trying to prove?  The scale’s highest value is 10.  You think I’m impressed?  Plus you’re watching TV and texting your friends.  I believe you.  Riiiiight.”

“Yesterday, a patient told me her pain was thirty-six,” said frustrated Emergency Medicine physician Ned Pollack during his fourth shift of three in a row.  “A thirty-six.  What’s worse, I described 10 out of 10 pain as childbirth or a broken femur with a 2-cm kidney stone.  Sooo, are you birthing Satan through your neck and eye sockets?!  Come on!”

The trend of misused pain scales was horrendously exacerbated at the turn of the century when the Joint Commission brilliantly decided to make pain the fifth vital sign.  To this day, pain remains the only subjective vital sign.

Pollack shakes his head in disbelief.  “If pain is a vital sign, then let’s ask patients to describe their temperatures and blood pressures with colors and stickers.  Is your blood pressure happy like a pony or sad like a three-legged horse?”

Later this evening, world-renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking is expected to comment on what he believes the highest value is on a scale ranging from 0 to 10.  Sources closes to Hawking believe his answer will be 10.

To make matters worse, medical providers are beginning to encounter more unusual cases of pain scale misuse.  This year alone, three cases in the literature describe patients with pain rated as the letters M, S, or V on the scale from 0 to 10.  The strangest case to date describes a healthy 26-year-old female patient presenting to an emergency room with negative pain (-3 out of 10).  She was requesting pain stimulants to bring her pain level up to 0.  This case will be presented at the next American Academy of Pain Medicine meeting.

Nurse Johns remains hopeful.  “Maybe with this study we can remove pain as a vital sign.  That or at least make a pain score of greater than 10 grounds for discharge.”

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