CALGARY — A comfort menu of pain relief options, offered to emergency patients at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, has been helping kids to feel better faster.
There are now signs and bookmarks around the emergency department with a picture-based pain scale that’s easy for children as young as four to understand and use.
New comfort kits in treatment rooms are filled with fun things to distract children who are hurting or anxious. Among the offered distractions are iPad minis with kid-friendly apps, music and videos.
The initiative was launched in April.
Figures from a follow-up survey suggest it has reduced dissatisfaction over pain treatment from 15 per cent to five.
“Our staff has always cared about treating pain in children and we’ve given them some tools to make it easier,” said Dr. Jennifer Thull-Freedman, an emergency physician at the hospital who helped create the ‘Commitment to Comfort’ initiative. “It’s both easier for the staff to treat pain, and it’s easier for families to know that they can speak up and know what to ask for.”
Children sometimes decline medication because they are afraid it will involve needles. But they can ask for numbing cream before an injection or IV, or request pain medication be given orally or even through a nasal spray.
Other kids have a tough time communicating how much their pain hurts.
One of the kid-friendly pain scale signs helped kindergartener Micah Shaw to describe her pain to her doctor recently.
Her mother, Lindsay McKay, brought the five-year-old to emergency on December 23rd with a fractured wrist, from a fall at the skating rink.
“For her to be able to see a picture and relate her emotion to the face that she sees is way easier than her trying to describe who she’s feeling, especially around people she doesn’t know,” McKay said.