What is PQRST?
PQRST refers to the mnemonic commonly used by physicians, nurses, and other medical personnel in assessing pain-related complaints from patients. This mnemonic is of great value to medical practitioners as this will form the basis for what questions need to be asked from patients in describing the pain they feel. Assessment is the first step in determining a particular medical condition in terms of its diagnosis, treatment, and/or management.
The “P” in PQRST stands for “Provoke”. In this part, doctors and nurses ask questions on what might have caused or provoked the pain felt by the patient/s. Patients are also asked what conditions worsen or lessen the pain. This is the part where patients tell what happened or what he/she was doing when pain was felt.
“Q” represents the quality of pain. Patients may be asked on the type of feeling when the pain is felt. Some may be able to describe the pain as sharp, burning, dull, and stabbing. For many patients though, it may be best to let them use their own words in describing the pain to avoid confusion.
“R” means radiation. It means that questions will be asked if pain radiates or spreads to other parts of the body. In this part, it will be determined if pain is localized to a particular spot or spreads to other areas in the body.
“S” stands for severity. Usually pain scales are used in asking patients on how severe the pain is. But every medical practitioner must remember that asking for a pain scale is subjective and that results are expected to vary between patients. The most commonly used pain scales is asking the patient to rate the severity of pain from 0 to 10, with 0 for no pain and 10 for the most severe pain.
“T” is for time or triggering factors. Questions on this part will concentrate on when and how long the pain is felt. Some pain may be felt continuously while other types are felt somewhat intermittently, sometimes depending on a particular action or condition.
Doctors and nurses are aware that the PQRST method of pain assessment is very important and crucial for the succeeding stages of medical management. Each one of them must make sure that all the right questions are asked before proceeding to diagnosing or treating the problem.