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NCLEX® QOTD: Morphine effectiveness

Osmosis Team
Published on Jan 17, 2024. Updated on Jan 6, 2024.

Today's NCLEX-RN® question of the day focuses on a nurse who is caring for a hospitalized patient receiving morphine for post-chest tube insertion pain. With the initial pain level at 8/10 and a 2 mg intravenous dose administered, which nursing intervention proves most effective in evaluating the morphine's impact on pain relief? Can you figure it out?

The nurse is caring for an adult hospitalized patient receiving morphine for pain following chest tube insertion. An hour prior, the patient stated their pain was an 8/10 on the pain scale, and received 2 mg of morphine intravenously. Which nursing intervention is most appropriate to evaluate the medication’s effectiveness?


A. Obtain a set of vital signs

B. Calculate their pain using the Face, Legs, Activity, Cry, Consolability (FLACC) scale 

C. Ask the patient to rate their pain on a scale from 0 to 10

D. Score the patient on the Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale (COWS)

Scroll down for the correct answer!

The correct answer to today's NCLEX-RN® Question is...

C. Ask the patient to rate their pain on a scale from 0 to 10

Rationale: Prior to administration of the morphine, the patient rated their pain on the numeric pain scale (0 to 10). The most appropriate way to reevaluate their pain is to reassess pain using the same scale.

Major Takeaway

Pain can be evaluated both objectively and subjectively. Certain pain scales utilize objective findings, such as The Face, Legs, Activity, Cry, Consolability (FLACC), while others ask the patient to rate their pain using subjective metrics like numbers or images. Since the nurse used the numeric pain scale to assess pain prior to administering the morphine, asking the patient to rate their pain on the numeric scale again will be the most reliable way of evaluating the effectiveness of the intervention. Vital signs are also valuable in providing objective data about pain and response to medication; however, must be correlated with other pain indicators. The FLACC scale is a measurement used to assess pain for pediatric patients between 2 months and 7 years of age or individuals that are unable to communicate their pain rather than adult patients who can communicate. The Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale (COWS) score is not used to assess pain, rather, it is used to assess withdrawal symptoms in patients with substance use disorder.

Incorrect answer explanations

A. Obtain a set of vital signs

Rationale: Vital signs can provide objective information about the pain. For example, when patients are in pain, their heart rate and blood pressure can be elevated. However, an isolated set of vital signs is not the most appropriate evaluation measure to determine whether the medication was effective.

B. Calculate their pain using the Face, Legs, Activity, Cry, Consolability (FLACC) scale

Rationale: The FLACC scale is an objective measurement used to assess pain for pediatric patients between 2 months and 7 years of age or individuals that are unable to communicate their pain. This scale is not the most appropriate way to evaluate pain for this adult patient who can verbalize their pain.

D. Score the patient on the Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale (COWS)

Rationale: The COWS score is not used to assess pain. Rather, it is used to assess withdrawal symptoms in patients with substance use disorder. 

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