Objective: After surgery, patients reported the delay in receiving help as the primary factor for poorly controlled pain. This study aimed to compare the effectiveness of patient management through two communication modalities: remote transmission (RT) versus bedside control (BC). We hypothesized that using remote technology for pump programming may provide the best postoperative infusion regimen for the patient's self-assessment of pain and adverse events.
Setting: Anesthesiology department and orthopedic surgery ward at three university hospitals.
Patients: Eighty patients undergoing orthopedic surgery with postoperative perineural patient-controlled analgesia were included.
Methods / Measures: A nurse assessed daily pain, sensory and motor blocks and adverse events. Patients completed a questionnaire three times a day and alerted for any problem according to the group (RT system or nurses' follow-up). On the third postoperative day, the nurse removed the catheter, completed the final assessment, and collected the historical data from the pump. A physician's shorter response time to change the patient control analgesia (PCA) program was the primary endpoint
Results: Of the 80 patients, 71 were analyzed (34 were randomized to the RT group and 37 to the BC group). Fifty-eight pump setting changes were noted. Analysis of repeated evaluations shows that mean time (SD) to change the PCA pump settings was significantly lower in the RT group (20 min (22.3 min)) than in the BC group (55.9 min (71.1 min)); mean difference [95% CI], -35.9 min [-74.3 to 2.4]); β estimation [95% CI], -34 [-63 to -6], p = 0.011). Pain relief, sensory and motor blocks did not differ between the groups: β estimation [95% CI], 0.1 [-0.4 to 0.6], p = 0.753; 0.5 [-0.4 to 1.4], p = 0.255; 0.9 [-0.04 to 1.8], p = 0.687, respectively. β = -34 [-63 to -6], p = 0.011). The consumption of ropivacaine, nurse workload and the cost of the analgesia regimen decreased in the RT group. No differences were noted in satisfaction scores or complication rates.
Conclusions: The response time for the physician to change the PCA program when necessary was shorter for patients using RT and alerts to the physician were more frequent compared with spot checks by nurses. RT helps to decrease nurses' workload, ropivacaine consumption, and costs but did not affect postoperative pain relief, complication rate, or patient-reported satisfaction score.
Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov ID:NCT02018068 PROTOCOL: The full trial protocol can be accessed at Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Medical Research and Statistics Unit, Lapeyronie University Hospital, Avenue Doten G Giraud, Montpellier, France. email@example.com.