Pain Free Hospital Visits for Children

March 17, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
No one likes to see their child in pain, especially when you are dealing with the stress of being in the hospital. One hospital in Florida takes extra steps to take the pain out of a visit. And, they're things anyone can ask for in order to save your own child from a few tears.

It's busy at this hospital center. Ten-year-old Sara Lewis is in one room. Twelve-year-old Austin Waters is in another. Both are here for tests. Both need an IV. Both had a bad experience being stuck before.

"They were in there for a minute, twisting and twirling, looking for a vein and she was devastated by the pain," says Andrew Lewis, Sara's dad.

"The last time, I think the nurse was inexperienced. She could not get it in the vein. She stuck him five or six times," says Teresa Waters, Austin's mom.

Nurse Stephanie Pitts hopes today will be different. At this hospital, the goal is to eliminate unnecessary pain.

"No child should have to suffer through an IV start or blood draw when there are procedures that are so simple to use and inexpensive," says Stephanie Pitts, R.N. of the Pain Free Task Force at St. Joseph's Children's Hospital in Tampa, Florida.

For Sara, the nurse will use a vein locator machine to find the vein. A numbing cream called Emla is applied for an hour. Then, while one nurse distracts her, the IV is put in.

Austin needs his IV quickly, so ethyl chloride spray is used to numb the area instantly. Austin is nervous, but soon his IV is in.

Another popular pain reducer is giving a baby a pacifier dipped in Sweet Ease -- a glucose solution.

"You can start an IV with Sweet Ease and the baby doesn't even cry, so you know it works," Pitts says.

No one wants to be at the hospital, but nurse Pitts hopes that by taking the ouch out of it, patients will leave feeling even better.

As part of the pain free initiative, the hospital is also using numbing spray on the back of the throat during a tube insertion and a cool laser to help numb an area faster for IVs. Their motto is, "Pain Free ? Ask Me!" and they challenge parents to always ask what can be done to reduce the discomfort to their child.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Lorri Hunt
St. Joseph's Children's Hospital
Pain Free Task Force
(813) 870-4433
lorri.hunt@baycare.org
http://www.baycare.org