Once at the hospital, it's important to keep the child calm. Increased anxiety leads to a greater perception of pain, according to the report. The authors recommended that each family be given a private room, ideally with colorful walls, pictures on the ceilings and a collection of toys or games to keep the child distracted in this unfamiliar environment.
The report suggested that medications such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen or oral narcotics can help relieve pain, as can topical analgesics. The report also recommends using topical anesthetics to numb areas before the placement of IV catheters.
"Children have a pretty significant fear of needles," Fein said. "Topical anesthesia can offer pain protection during IV line placement and [drawing blood]."
The report adds that the use of pain-relieving medications doesn't appear to alter physicians' ability to make a diagnosis in a timely fashion.
Fein said that not all of the report's recommendations have to do with medications. "For the youngest infants, even just giving sugar water can help reduce pain," he said.
Child life specialists are specifically trained to perform distraction procedures to help keep a child calm. These specialists can teach other members of the staff ways to keep children from focusing on their pain, Fein said.
One of these specialists agreed with Fein.
"I think we are all striving toward achieving the goal of pain-free emergency care," said Dr. Hnin Khine, a pediatric emergency specialist at the Children's Hospital at Montefiore in New York City.
"We can do most procedures now in a calmer way, but we still have more to do," she said. "This report is not a surprise, but it reminds us to stay on top of pain management."
One important aspect to keeping a child calm is their parents, she said.
"Parents are often very anxious, recalling their own past ER experiences. It's important that we educate parents as
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