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Docs Make Push to Lower Kids' Pain, Stress in ER
Date:10/29/2012

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Oct. 29 (HealthDay News) -- A trip to the emergency room often means a child is in pain, and it's a near certainty that the visit will also be fraught with anxiety.

That's why the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a new report emphasizing the importance of controlling pain and anxiety in children who need emergency medical treatment.

"There are a lot of modalities for reducing pain in children, and we're doing a lot better in terms of kids' pain than we used to," said report author Dr. Joel Fein, an attending physician in the emergency department at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

"Parents should advocate for the children for pain and anxiety management" if they feel they aren't getting adequate control, said Fein, who also is a professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine.

The new report was published online Oct. 29 and in the November print issue of the journal Pediatrics.

There are many barriers to achieving a pain-free ER visit, according to the report. One is a fear of side effects. Another is a concern that giving medications to mask the pain might make it more difficult or time-consuming to make a diagnosis, which could affect treatment.

Even topical anesthetics might not be used if doctors believe they may delay the right diagnosis. Topical anesthetics also aren't readily available in all emergency rooms, according to the report.

Narcotic medications still carry a stigma, and doctors may be less likely to use these drugs in children. What's more, the report says there continues to be a racial bias in the prescription of these drugs, with black children less likely to receive them for pain relief.

The new report suggests that these barriers can be overcome, and that pain relief should start even before a child reaches the hospital if they ar
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