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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Alarming Find in Kids' Hospital Study

In seven out of every 10 procedures, children received no pain treatment specific to that procedure.

Children's Pain Goes Undetected in Hospitals

It's really hard to believe the pain felt by crying, screaming, red-faced toddlers are going unnoticed in hospitals, when a trek to the pediatrician for a simple shot can evoke squeals that sound like a kid is being tortured.

But now, adding to the stress of parents whose young children are hospitalized, researchers in Canada have found small kids undergoing treatments are suffering pain more than we think,Reuters reports.

Researchers found that doctors at Canadian children's hospitals aren't documenting pain relief for the majority of painful or uncomfortable procedures, including blood sampling and inserting or removing intravenous lines and catheters. However, in the more severely painful treatments, such as inserting a breathing tube, children were given some kind of pain relief 80 percent of the time, according to Reuters.

The findings reveal that for seven out of every 10 procedures, children received no pain treatment specific to that procedure, although eight out of 10 procedures were done within 24 hours of some pain relief. They did not include major surgeries, cancer treatments or trauma care, the news service reports. On average, the children underwent six painful procedures each day.

"Our worry is that (children) are getting painful procedures without any pain management," Dr. Bonnie Stevens, lead researcher on the study and a professor at the University of Toronto, tells Reuters.

Stevens and her colleagues collected data from eight children's hospitals over a six-month period. Rarely did the less painful procedures get a specific treatment.

Taking a blood sample from a finger prick, for example, was accompanied by pain relief 5 percent of the time (another 7 percent happened while children had an I.V. drip of pain medication).

And even though, for many procedures, medication isn't necessarily the best approach, Stevens tells Reuters nurses and doctors can use other psychological or physical ways to reduce pain, such as "give babies a pacifier to suck on, distract them with a toy or give them some drops of sucrose" to reduce pain, Stevens tells Reuters.

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