Ask the Experts, MDS 3.0 Items, Preparation, Scheduling

Ask Diane: When do I complete the pain assessment interview under MDS 3.0?

Q: Under the MDS 3.0, when do I have to complete the pain assessment interview?

Diane: The pain assessment interview, which can be found in Section J, should be conducted on the day before, the day of, or the day after the assessment reference date (ARD), according to the most recent MDS 3.0 draft. The draft instructs the interviewer to ask residents:

  • Have you had pain or hurting at any time in the last seven days?
  • How much of the time have you experienced pain or hurting over the last days?
  • Over the past seven days, has pain made it hard for you to sleep at night?
  • Over the past seven days, have you limited your day-to-day activities because of pain?

The 3.0 also instructs the assessor to ask the resident to rate his or her worst pain in the last seven days with a numeric rating or a verbal descriptor (i.e., “mild,” “moderate,” “severe,” “very severe, horrible”).

This represents a shift from the MDS 2.0, which relied on staff assessment and observations of whether a resident experienced pain during the last seven days to code pain. MDS 2.0 instructed staff to ask the resident whether he or she experienced pain, but the coding did not reflect what the resident said. Now, it’s the resident’s interpretation of pain, not staff members’ interpretation.

Although the MDS 3.0 pain interview must be completed the day before, of, or after the ARD, your nursing facility will still need to follow clinical practice guidelines for pain management. CMS recently posted a draft for F309, quality of care, which states that each resident must receive and the facility must provide the necessary care and services to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being. F309 guidance will be expanded to include surveyor guidelines detailing CMS’ expectations for assessment, treatment options, and monitoring of pain.