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Numeric Rating Scale (NRS) Instructions

Instructions detailing the use of the numeric rating scale (NRS) to assess pain intensity for persons able to self report: 


 Purpose:   To assess pain intensity in persons who are able to self report.1
 When to Use:
  1. At admission
  2. At each quarterly nursing review
  3. Each shift in individual with pain
  4. Each time a change in individual's pain status is reported
  5. Following a pain intervention to evaluate treatment effectiveness
 How to Use: Ask individual to point to the number on the Numeric Rating Scale that best represents the intensity of their pain NOW
 Documentation: Document/record all scores in a location that is readily accessible by others on the health care team.

To use as a pocket guide, print the NRS and directions document front to back on card stock paper to create two tools. Cut to size and laminate for increased durability.


1  Self-report of pain is defined as the ability to indicate presence and/or severity of pain verbally, in writing, or by other means such as finger span, pointing, head movement, or blinking eyes to answer yes or no questions.


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