New guidelines for children’s pain management in Canada

Ottawa –

The Institute of Health Standards has released a set of new guidelines to help hospital workers managing pain in children — Especially for those who can’t communicate when they’re hurt.

This is the world’s first national standard focused on pediatric pain.

Dr. Samina Ali, an emergency physician and pediatric pain researcher, says doctors have long believed that infants’ nervous systems were underdeveloped and unable to feel or remember pain.

“By the mid-1980s, babies had open-heart surgery without anesthesia,” said Ali, professor of pediatrics and adjunct professor of emergency medicine at the University of Alberta.

“Even if those little kids don’t have language at the moment, their bodies remember and you can see the long-term effects of that on their physical and psychological development.” increase.”

Since then, the country has made great strides toward pain management for young patients, and standardizing the approach across the county is another major step forward.

Children in hospital experience an average of six painful procedures a day, says Katie Birnie, psychologist and associate scientific director of Solutions for Kids in Pain. .

For babies in intensive care, that number is closer to 14.

The new standards set out 34 criteria to keep young patients on top of their pain management, including mandatory incident reporting when a patient experiences preventable, untreated, uncontrolled pain.

The standard also recommends ongoing training for health care providers and constant assessment of each patient’s pain and whether the treatment is working.

Accreditation Canada and the Health Standards Organization plan to make the guidelines free to hospitals and health care professionals, but hope that one day they will become the cornerstone of policy and training for health professionals.

Dr. Justina Marianayagam, a pediatric resident at BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, said she remembers one lecture on pain management from her four years of training.

“From a training standpoint, there is a huge need,” said Marianayagam, who experienced chronic pain as a child.

About one in five children have chronic pain, says Birnie.

“As adults, the risk of mental health problems, substance use, and socioeconomic disparities increases,” she said.Pain can also affect children’s emotions, friendships, family relationships, sleep, and physical function. There is a nature.

Children who are Black, Indigenous, or otherwise experience discrimination or inequality are disproportionately affected, she said.

“We know that black children in North America are less likely to receive treatment for pain than white children,” Ali explained, as well as injuries such as broken arms and appendicitis.

As such, new guidelines encourage organizations to assess and evaluate the equity of pain management services for children.

The newly issued standards follow the 2021 action plan by Health Canada’s Canadian Pain Task Force, calling for a more consistent approach to pain management across the country.

This report by the Canadian Press was first published on April 3, 2023.

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