NPR ran a story recently about the problems with using the “0 to 10” pain scale that has been shared widely among plaintiff’s lawyers on social media. My law partner, Roger Moore blogged about the pain scale in January and his post made many of the same points as the NPR article.
To sum up, the pain scale isn’t all that helpful to doctors. It may be more helpful for patients to describe the quality of pain like “dull” or “shooting”. It may also be helfpful to talk about how pain can limit activity rather than quantify pain with a number. Some experts believe the use of the pain scale has lead to the over-prescription of opioids.
The pain scale can also be used to discredit injured employees involved in litigation by getting them to overestimate pain to make them look like they are exaggerating symptoms. I always object to pain scale questions when my clients are being examined by opposing counsel. The growing awareness of the problems with the pain scale may lead doctors to move away from using the pain scale and may lead lawyers not to ask questions about the pain scale.
(Sorry, “I read it on Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Watch” merchandise is not available)