Control of pain and stress for children is a complex yet vital component of emergency medical care. Although there are numerous barriers to pain control for children in the emergency department (ED) and out-of-hospital emergency care settings, including difficulty in assessing pain in young patients, unfamiliarity with new products and techniques, fear of the adverse effects of medication, and staffing limitations and time constraints, many physicians have begun to apply novel and consistent approaches to reducing children’s pain in the emergency setting.
The AAP clinical report, “Relief of Pain and Anxiety in Pediatric Patients in Emergency Medical Systems (EMS),” published in the November 2012 issue of Pediatrics (published online Oct. 29), provides evidence-based system-level and provider-level guidance for pain management and anxiolysis (the administration of anti-anxiety medication) in the acute care setting. The clinical report includes staff education tips and protocols to ensure child comfort and improve staff and family satisfaction. It describes how children’s pain can be accurately assessed using age-appropriate instruments that account for the wide range of children’s developmental stages. The report also recommends that physicians begin to address pain and anxiety as soon as a child comes in contact with the emergency medical system (EMS), and that this care continues through discharge of the child from the ED. Physicians and EMS providers should be aware of all available analgesic and sedation options for children.