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Many Children Receive Little Pain Relief After Surgery

Related study shows that families like being present for rounds in pediatric intensive care

TUESDAY, Sept. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Although most parents say that their children are in pain after surgery, many give them little or no pain relief, according to a study published online Sept. 7 in Pediatrics. In a related study in the same issue, nearly all families like being present for rounds in the pediatric intensive care unit, but on the first day of their child's admission, they often do not understand the plan and have privacy concerns.

In the first study, Michelle A. Fortier, Ph.D., and colleagues from the University of California in Irvine investigated pain (as assessed by the visual analog scale) and analgesic use among 261 children undergoing routine tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy surgery. They found that, although 86 percent of children were in significant pain after the first day at home as rated by their parents, 24 percent of children received zero or only one medication dose the whole day, a trend that continued on subsequent days.

In the second study, Paul L. Aronson, M.D., from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and colleagues observed 411 patient encounters and surveyed 98 families and 33 residents regarding the impact of family presence in the pediatric intensive care unit during rounds. They found that 98 percent of families liked being present for rounds, but on the first day often had trouble understanding the plan and were more likely to have privacy concerns. About half of residents (52 percent) felt that teaching was adversely affected when families were present.

"We conclude that a large proportion of children receive little analgesic medication after surgery and research efforts should be directed to the discrepancy between high ratings of postoperative pain provided by parents and the low dosing of analgesics they use for their children," Fortier and colleagues conclude.

Abstract - Fortier
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Abstract - Aronson
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