Some Infants Undergo Many Painful, Stressful Procedures

July 1, 2008

Many painful and stressful procedures are performed in neonatal intensive care units in Paris, France, and most of them are not accompanied by analgesia, researchers report in the July 2 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

TUESDAY, July 1 (HealthDay News) -- Many painful and stressful procedures are performed in neonatal intensive care units in Paris, and most of them are not accompanied by analgesia, researchers report in the July 2 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Ricardo Carbajal, M.D., Ph.D., of Hopital d'enfants Armand Trousseau in Paris, France, and colleagues looked at data from all painful and stressful procedures and corresponding analgesic therapy from the first 14 days after admission for 430 neonates at tertiary care centers in Paris. The data were from September 2005 to January 2006.

The researchers found that neonates experienced 60,969 first-attempt procedures, 69.6 percent of which were considered painful and 30.4 percent considered stressful. Each neonate experienced a median of 75 painful procedures during the study period and 10 painful procedures per day while hospitalized. Of the painful procedures, 2.1 percent were performed after the patient received pain medication; 18.2 percent with non-pharmacological-only interventions; 20.8 percent with pharmacological, non-pharmacological or both; and 79.2 percent without pain medication or other interventions. The report indicates that 34.2 percent were performed while the neonate was also receiving pain medication for other reasons.

"The number of painful procedures is so high that the first step to improve procedural pain management must significantly reduce these numbers," the authors write.

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