The use of a validated pain assessment tool should be a standard protocol for critically ill patients who are unable to self-report, according to a practice alert from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. Among patients in intensive care units, more than 30% experience significant pain when resting and more than 50% do during routine treatment. "The challenge to assessing pain is that many critically ill patients cannot describe how they feel due to their condition, sedation or mechanical ventilation," the group said.

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