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Most Critically Ill Infants Receive Pain Relief

Reported frequency of analgesic use higher than previous studies

WEDNESDAY, July 22 (HealthDay News) -- Most critically ill infants undergoing minor painful procedures at an Australian hospital received pain relief, more than reported in previous studies, according to an article in the July issue of the Journal of Pain.

Denise Harrison, Ph.D., from the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues assessed analgesic use during skin-breaking, minor painful procedures among infants admitted to a single neonatal intensive care unit over an 11-month period and expected to stay at least 28 days.

The researchers identified 3,605 procedures in 55 infants. The most common were heel lance (71 percent) and intravenous catheter insertion or venepuncture (14 percent). Most (85 percent) infants were given pain relief either by specific administration of oral sucrose or through opioid analgesics already being administered.

"The results of this study show that either oral sucrose was specifically administered or that opioid analgesics were being administered as part of ongoing care during 85 percent of all minor procedures," Harrison and colleagues conclude. "This is a vast increase in the utilization of analgesics during minor painful procedures than reported in previous studies."

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